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Children More Distracting Than Mobile Phones

Researchers in Australia have found that children are 12 times more distracting to a driver than talking on a mobile phone while driving.

| October 8, 2013 | In the Lab

Asian Scientist (Oct. 8, 2013) - Researchers in Australia have found that children are 12 times more distracting to a driver than talking on a mobile phone while driving.

The researchers, from the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), used cars fitted with a discrete recording system which monitored the driving behavior of 12 families over three weeks. The families had an average of two children, between 1-8 years of age.

They analyzed a total of ninety-two trips for any potentially distracting activities undertaken by the driver. This included all activities that distracted the driver or competed for their attention while driving; including looking away from the forward roadway for more than two seconds while the vehicle was in motion.

In the study, drivers were observed engaging in potentially distracting activities in 90 of the 92 trips. The most frequent types of distractions included turning to look at the child in the rear seat or watching the rear-view mirror (76.4 percent), engaging in conversation with the child (16 percent), assisting the child (7 percent) and playing with the child (1 percent).

Through their analysis, the researchers found that the average parent takes his or her eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip.

The study also found that the presence of a front seat passenger did not significantly affect the way in which drivers engaged in potentially distracting child occupant-related activities, both in terms of frequency and duration.

“Previous research has shown that, compared with driving alone, dialing a mobile phone while driving is associated with 2.8 times the crash risk, and talking or listening while driving is associated with 1.3 times the crash risk,” said Associate Professor Judith Charlton, the leader of the study.

She said that while the risks of distraction during driving are becoming increasingly well known, drivers often don’t consider their own children to be a distraction. This highlights the need to educate drivers about the risks of focusing on their children rather than the road.

One area that may assist in reducing driver distraction is correct restraint of children in their car seats. According to the study, children were in an incorrect position for over 70 percent of the journey time.


Source: Monash University; Photo: jurvetson/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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