UK study: Children are the No. 1 driver distraction

So how do you keep them behaved?
Feb 26, 2014

UK study: Children are number one driver distraction

Children are adorable, but don't get too carried away by their cuteness or their tantrums when they're in the mood for such--especially when you're driving. A recent study by UK-based organization Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) identified children as the number one distraction for drivers. Among 1,447 respondents, 29% admitted that their kids are their biggest distractions while they're behind the wheel.

Other distractions include mobile phone use, texting and social media, changing the radio channel, backseat drivers, satellite navigation, and attractive pedestrians, drivers or passengers. Nine percent of respondents also admitted that they have crashed because they were distracted.

(Read: Daydreaming is top driver distraction, says US insurance group)

"People who think they can multitask while driving are kidding themselves," said IAM chief executive Simon Best. "If you take your eyes off the road for just two seconds at 50kph, you'll travel close to 90ft, effectively blind."

Disruptions while driving will always arise, so how does one deal with the unexpected?

"All drivers develop bad habits over time," said Best. "The key to reducing distractions and their impact is to learn to look upon your driving as a skill that needs continuous evaluation and improvement."

Here are some tips from IAM to keep children behaved:

* Keep them occupied with games that reward quiet behavior. Make sure these games don't involve the driver.

* Portable video-game consoles, in-car DVD players or tablets will keep kids occupied for hours. Toss in headphones, so that the soundtrack won't distract the driver.

* For long road trips, organize. Bring food and drinks to avoid hunger and thirst complaints from the little tots.

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* Plan extra stops. Let the kids stretch their legs during these stops. Do some research so you know where to take a break.

* Bring a plastic bag in case of travel sickness.

* Bring along another adult in the car to look after the children. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving.

* Don't shift your attention from driving to dealing with fighting kids while you're still moving. Pull over at a gas station before you deal with the squabble.

Finally, "prepare like you're going to war," as our columnist Andy Leuterio advises. (Read: 10 ways to prepare your kids for road trips.)

Artwork by Lloyd de Guzman

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