Study Shows Children 12 Percent More Distracting Than Cell Phones

Your kids’ back seat dramatics are far more distracting than your cell phone, researchers say.

Those crazy kids! One might think that drivers fiddling with their cell phones would be the most distracting thing ever – what with the dialing, the texting, the checking of emails, the downloading of the latest Angry Birds smartphone app and all that. But in a recently released report, Australian researchers instead point the finger of blame at your… precious angels.

That’s right. Study results say kids are an even greater distraction to drivers than are cell phones – 12 percent more distracting, to be exact. Turns out, as many a minivan maven probably already knows, those backseat fits of giggles/rage/gotta-go-potties are a major distracted-driving force. And as many a police officer/paramedic/personal injury attorney knows, distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents, far outpacing drunken driving. In fact, a full 80 percent of traffic accidents nationwide are deemed results of distracted driving, statistics show.

The study revealed that during an average 16-minute car trip, drivers are distracted for an average three minutes and 22 seconds by the actions of their children. Participants drove with kids ages 1-8 in the car and here’s what ensued:

  • 76.4 percent of the drivers turned to look at the backseat passengers or viewed them in the rear-view mirror
  • 16 percent talked to their children in the backseat
  • 7 percent passed food or drinks to their kids
  • 1 percent played with their kids

A few tips: Make sure kids know that if they drop something and need you to pick it up, they’re outta luck until you’re able to fully stop the car. Pack a snack and a few toys or car-friendly games to keep them happily occupied, but skip balls or tubular-shaped objects that can roll beneath your gas and brake pedals should your future MLB pitcher decide to launch one into the front seat. Insist kids use their “inside voices” – no screaming, bickering or making like an American Idol contestant while on the road. And if all else fails, bribe the lil’ suckers. Offer a prize – a yummy treat, visit to the park, favorite TV show, etc. if they can just keep the peace until your tires hit the driveway.

What do you think, moms and dads? Post your top tips for keeping your kids’ backseat dramatics at bay on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page. And if you’re convinced that your beautiful brood isn’t crimping your driving style, check out this NBC Nightline feature wherein reporter Paula Faris’ pint-sized passengers put her to the test.