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Study shows children frequently distract drivers

When we write about distracted driving in this Detroit Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog, we are generally talking about cellphone use behind the wheel. Distracted driving is a term that might also be used to describe someone who is putting on makeup while driving, or focusing more on shuffling through an MP3 player than driving safely. A new report, however, found that another type of distracted driving may be the worst kind of all. Researchers have concluded that drivers are 12 times more distracted by children in the car than by cellphones.

The research, which is reportedly the first study into this issue, shows that drivers who have children in their vehicles will take their eyes off the roadways for more than 3 minutes during a 16-minute drive. Parents are reportedly letting their focus stray from the roads in order to calm babies and break up fights among siblings, among other distractions. This can, of course, lead to dangerous car accidents.

According to the Australian study, fathers are more easily distracted than mothers when it comes to children and driving. Not only are men more easily distracted, but they become distracted for longer periods of time than women.

In order to avoid becoming distracted by children while driving, drivers can first and foremost talk to their children about rules in the car. For example, children should be told that if they drop something, their parents will not pick it up until the car stops.

Another precaution drivers can take is to avoid talking on the phone while driving with kids--of course, this is dangerous enough without the added distraction of kids in the car.

Easily accessible snacks can also be kept in the car to keep hungry children calm.

It is very important for drivers to avoid all types of distractions while they are behind the wheel. As we see all too often in Michigan, when they fail to do so the results can be catastrophic. And when these drivers cause injuries to other people, they may be held accountable not only criminally, but also in a civil lawsuit. Civil personal injury lawsuits are sometimes filed against distracted drivers so that victims can obtain compensation for their medical costs and other related expenses.

Source: ABC News, "One of the Worst Driving Distractions on the Road: Your kids," Paula Faris, March 19, 2013

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