Why many parents have no choice but to drive while distracted

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Distracted driving is a very dangerous personal choice that affects not just the motorist who is distracted, but also anyone that they cross paths with in traffic. The cultural discussion about distracted driving often focuses primarily on the use of technology. From mobile phones and built-in screens to GPS navigation devices, there are many technological distractions present in the average vehicle. People sometimes have to make intentional efforts to minimize what distracts them as they drive.

Unfortunately, there are other sources of distraction that people may become more acclimated to because of their constant exposure to them. Parents are among those most likely to drive distracted even though they may have the most precious cargo in their vehicles.

Why distraction affects parents

Most parents want to drive as safely as possible, but their children may fail to understand what that actually means. Children are hungry for the attention of their parents and often do whatever they think is necessary to get a little attention.

A vehicle is one of the few locations where a parent is a captive audience who cannot leave the situation. Children, especially younger children or those with multiple siblings, might therefore engage in all kinds of frustrating and distracting conduct on long drives or the daily commute to school. They fight with one another, throw their favorite toys, loudly demand a snack or complain about their uncomfortable clothing. Parents almost inevitably have to shift their focus to their children while driving, which can be more than just a momentary demand for quiet.

Researchers asking parents about transporting their children found disturbing trends. Roughly 70% of parents responding to survey questions admitted to feeding a child while driving and 40% reported picking up toys for a child while in control of a vehicle.  Parents might make eye contact with their children in the rearview mirror or directly by turning their heads.

The more they attempt to discuss with their child while driving or meet their needs while operating a motor vehicle, the greater their chances of their distraction putting them at risk of a wreck. Recognizing how the demands of parenting can contribute to safety concerns in traffic may help people to more safely travel with their children.