How Children in the Car Can Increase the Likelihood of Distracted Driving Crashes

driver with kids in the backseat looking at ipadWhen we hear the term “distracted driving,” the first thing that often comes to mind is texting and driving. While this is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, there are many others.

For example, driving with passengers in the car, especially children, can be a significant distraction. Below, Greg Monforton and Partners discuss the many ways children dangerously distract drivers. We also talk about ways parents can lower their risk of a crash when traveling with their children.

If you were injured by a distracted driver in Windsor or somewhere else in Ontario, our Windsor-based auto accident lawyers may be able to assist you with the legal process. Our firm has secured millions for victims of driver negligence, and we do not charge upfront fees.

Are you a victim of a car crash? Call for legal assistance: (866) 320-4770.

Why Children Can Be Distracting for Drivers

Most children are not great at sitting in the back seat, quietly waiting to arrive at their destination. Younger children often loudly demand their parents’ attention, such as by crying or whining. Older children and even teens may be beligerent or argue with siblings or with their parents. This behaviour is a dangerous distraction to parents, often causing them to take their eyes, concentration and sometimes their hands, off the road and the task of driving.

Here are some of the main ways children distract their parents while they are behind the wheel:

Children Have Many Needs

Children can be incredibly needy on car rides, especially when they are younger. They often complain that they are hungry or thirsty or that they need to use the bathroom. They may ask their parent for snacks or to adjust the air conditioning temperature.

Children Want Entertainment

Children often want constant entertainment, especially when they are in the car. This is why parents often bring along iPads or give their smartphones to their children to keep them occupied.

Parents often take one or both hands off the wheel to hand a device to a child. Siblings often argue about whose turn it is to use a device, which can be a significant distraction. Even if you do not take your hands off the steering wheel to resolve the disagreement, your mind is not going to be focused on driving.

Another source of disagreement is all the entertainment options in our cars, from the car stereo to the devices parents often bring along. One child wants to listen to a certain type of music or a certain podcast, but another child wants to listen to something completely different.

Technical issues with devices are another problem. For example, an app might not work or it may require a password to access it.

Responding to your child’s needs while driving often creates a physical distraction. You might need to take a hand off the wheel to hand your child a snack, pick up a dropped device or adjust something on the dashboard.

The need for entertainment grows as children age. While infants might require attention for basic needs, toddlers and older children have a more developed need for stimulation and engagement.

Children Make Many Loud, Unexpected Noises

Children are noisy by their very nature. Children often have loud conversations, involving yelling, laughter or even crying, all of which can divert a driver’s attention from the road. These auditory distractions can startle drivers or require them to intervene in disputes, taking their mental focus away from driving conditions and potential hazards.

Children Often Need Emotional Support

When children become upset or distressed, they need reassurance from their parents. Parents may need to reach into the back seat to soothe an upset child. When they do this, however, they are dividing their mental focus between their child and the road. Emotionally engaging with a child is difficult and unsafe to do while driving a car.

Children Need to be Monitored

Monitoring children in the rearview mirror to ensure they are safe and properly seated is dangerous. Drivers need to make sure children are properly seated and buckled up before they start their trip.

How to Avoid Getting Distracted by Children

There are several things that parents can do to help reduce distractions from their children, thereby reducing the risk of a distracted driving crash.

Prepare for the Trip

Before setting off, make sure your children have everything they need within easy reach. Snacks, water and entertainment like books, toys or devices help to keep them occupied.

Set Ground Rules

Explain to older children the importance of keeping the noise down and remaining seated with their seatbelts fastened. If you set these ground rules when children are young and you stick to them, children may be more likely to comply as they get older. If children follow the rules, there should be a lot less distraction.

Take Regular Breaks

If you are taking a long road trip, plan stops where children can use the restroom and stretch their legs. This can help reduce their restlessness, which causes them to demand attention from you while you are on the road.

Have an Adult Copilot

If two parents are in the front seat, the one who is not driving should manage requests from children. Drivers should not try to do too much. Allow your copilot to help so you can stay focused on driving.

Use Safe-Driving Technology

Technology like Bluetooth and voice commands allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, while still dealing with some of their child’s needs.

What If You Are a Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?

You could take plenty of safety precautions to avoid causing a distracted driving accident. However, another driver may not take these steps, resulting in a distracted driving crash.

If you or your loved ones suffer injuries in a distracted driving accident, it is important to know how to proceed to protect your rights:

  • Seek medical attention: Even if injuries seem minor, it is crucial to get a medical evaluation. Symptoms could worsen as time goes by. Waiting to go to the doctor puts your health as risk, and it also hurts your claim for compensation.
  • Report the accident to the police: A police report provides official documentation of your crash and is a valuable piece of evidence for your claim.
  • Gather evidence: If possible, take photos of the accident scene, your vehicle, the other vehicle involved and any visible injuries. However, do not risk your safety or the safety of others to get these images.
  • Contact an experienced lawyer: A lawyer can guide you through the legal process, help gather necessary evidence and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

Contact Greg Monforton and Partners After a Collision

Our experienced lawyers understand the devastating impact a distracted driving accident can have on victims and their families. We provide comprehensive legal support and work hard to secure the compensation victims need.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you navigate the legal system. There are no upfront costs or legal obligations.

Free legal consultation. Call to learn more: (866) 320-4770.