October 10, 2016

Posted: October 10, 2016 |

California Lawyers Reveal the Most Significant Driving Distraction for Parents – Kids in Backseat

The attention focused on distracted driving has raised public awareness about the dangers of attempting to multi-task while operating a motor vehicle.  While traditional distractions like chatting with passengers, adjusting the radio, reading a newspaper, and grooming continue to be a problem, most government safety campaigns have focused on the dangers posed by electronic devices like cell phones.  Certainly, these types of distractions justify the attention garnered by government regulators and media sources, but parents face a serious distraction that receives much less attention – their kids sitting in the backseat.

Young Child Passengers Twelve Times the Distraction as Cell Phone Use

A study conducted by Australian researchers and reported by CBS found that kids in the backseat were twelve times more distracting than the use of a cell phone when operating a motor vehicle.  The researchers installed cameras in vehicles of families and monitored their behavior over a three-week period.  Subjects of the study talked on the phone one percent of the time while dealing with children in the vehicle twelve percent of the time.  Some other findings of the study included:

  • Turning and looking into the back seat to take care of kids constituted 75 percent of child-related distractions.
  • Parents often experienced distraction when observing children in the rear-view mirror.
  • New moms were involved in crashes ten percent of the time with their infant in the vehicle.

The researchers determined that the typical parent took their eyes off the road an average of 21 percent of the time, which amounted to 3 minutes and 22 seconds during a brief 16-minute excursion.  While breaking up arguments between siblings was a common problem, the most serious distraction involved dealing with fussy babies.  

Another study conducted by AAA found that babies are eight times more distracting to drivers than adult passengers.  The lead author of the Australian study, published in the journal American Academy of Pediatrics, concluded that distracted driving resources might be misallocated toward teen driver rather than parents with children in the back seat.  Moms with new babies crying in the back seat dealt with the problem while the vehicle was in motion by feeding the baby, playing loud music, or reaching to pass objects to the baby.

Distracted Driving Constitutes a Growing Roadway Safety Epidemic

Because drivers who avert their eyes from the road for even a few seconds can easily rear-end a stopped vehicle or run over a young child attempting to cross the street, parents with children need to be aware of the danger of distractions caused by child passengers.  When drivers collide with other vehicles or hit bicyclists or pedestrians because their attention is divided, they can be held financially responsible for causing a car accident resulting in bodily injury or wrongful death.

The danger posed by multi-tasking drivers can hardly be overstated, which the following data makes abundantly clear:

  • Nearly 660,000 drivers use their cell phone or otherwise manipulate a portable electronic device. (NOPUS)
  • Distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,179 and caused injury to 431,000 more people in 2014. (Distraction.gov)
  • Motorists divert their eyes from the road an average of five seconds when texting which is long enough for the vehicle to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph. (Distraction.gov).
  • The Department of Transportation reports ten percent of deadly crashes, eighteen percent of injury accidents, and sixteen percent of police-reported collisions are caused by distracted drivers.

While a car accident claim can lead to compensation for property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, diminished earning capacity, and other forms of financial loss, the other driver’s insurance company will usually handle the claim.  Insurance companies often use a range of tactics to avoid paying claims or reduce the amount recovered.  Our experienced Orange County car accident lawyers can assist you in navigating these insurance company traps.  

Distracted driving constitutes a form of negligent driving behavior that can justify imposing liability on the inattentive driver.  However, time is of the essence in obtaining legal representation because proving a crash was caused by lack of attention can be difficult.  Our California car accident lawyers review law enforcement accident reports, visit crash sites, interview witnesses, and conduct a thorough investigation.  If you experience injury or lose a loved one in a collision caused by a distracted driver anywhere in Orange County or throughout California, our California tractor-trailer accident lawyers provide effective representation of personal injury victims.  Our lawyers at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie offer a free consultation so call us at 949-752-7474 to schedule your free consultation today.