Parents find driving with children distracting, here's how to be car safe

Marie Claire Dorking
Parents are getting distracted when driving with children [Photo: Getty]
Parents are getting distracted when driving with children [Photo: Getty]

Getting out of the house, drinking a hot cup of tea, eating a meal without interruption...there are a number of things that become more difficult when you become a parent, and driving is just one of them.

Shocking new statistics have revealed seven in 10 British parents (72%) admit they struggle to fully concentrate on the road when their children are misbehaving in the car.

Even more worrying is the fact that 40% realise they're less safe behind the wheel as a result.

The survey, of 5,000 parents, by Nissan to illustrate the benefits of their ProPilot technology, also revealed that the level of distraction means they've taken their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel. Yikes!

Other driving mishaps include running through red traffic lights, forgetting to indicate, braking suddenly, swerving into the next lane, and even being forced to stop the car completely.

Backseat battles between siblings or friends top the list of kids' bad travel behaviour (52%), followed by crying and screaming tantrums (43%), kicking the back of the driver's seat (37%), undoing their seat belts (26%) and throwing toys around the car (22%).

It is no surprise, therefore, that as a result parents say they regularly feel stressed and anxious when their kids are in the car, with some admitting to arriving at their destination either late or in a bad mood.

Others say their kids in-car behaviour has lead to fights with their partner or road rage incidents with other drivers.

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To reduce the risk of accident while driving with their little ones many parents are resorting to desperate measures with 15% completely avoiding motorways or busy roads when their kids are in the car, while others adopt distraction methods via tablets or smartphones (37%), and almost a third (31%) try to keep children quiet with sweets.

Four out of ten parents say their driving suffers as a result of children distracting them [Photo: Getty]
Four out of ten parents say their driving suffers as a result of children distracting them [Photo: Getty]

So how can parents drive more safely when their children are in the car? Nissan have put together their top ten tips for stress-free car journeys with little ones.

1.) Plan ahead of time to avoid unnecessary stops and distractions

2.) Allocate time for frequent toilet and rest breaks

3.) Experiment with different types of music in the car to identify what will keep your kids entertained

4.) Invest in some in-car entertainment to keep the kids busy

5.) Let the kids have a role in planning where to go – this will keep them excited, providing them with something to look forward to

6.) Stock up on nutritious snacks to avoid depleted energy levels; hungry kids are noisy kids, so make sure you are prepared

7.) Bring your kids' favourite 'comfort toys' to provide a sense of familiarity and security

8.) Drive when it fits in with your kids' routines. If they nap at a certain time, consider whether they could nap in their car seat

9.) Make sure the kids are comfy with the appropriate, properly adjusted car seat and clothing

10.) Make sure you do all the relevant checks on your car before you leave: fluid levels, tyre pressures, tread depth and make sure the air con is working – there is nothing than worse than needing breakdown support on the motorway with disgruntled kids in the back

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Driving with children made headlines last week after a new survey revealed that one third of parents are flouting safety rules by giving a lift to someone else’s child without using a child seat.

The study, of 1,000 UK parents of children aged 12 or under, revealed a worrying proportion of UK children who may have found themselves at risk of death or serious injury because they aren’t travelling in a car seat.

And that’s not the only rule parents are ignoring, one in 10 parents have had four or more children sat across one row of seats in the car, while one in five let their child sit on a cushion rather than a booster seat.

The problem is that parents are confused over car seat regulations when it comes to transporting other people’s children.

The stats reveal that just one fifth of parents are confident about the rules regarding children and car seats.

And three quarters of parents think the government should do more to raise awareness of car seat regulations, with 20 per cent worried they might inadvertently break the law regarding child seats.