How kids can drive parents to distraction at wheel

Britain's motorists are being driven to distraction by their children, with potentially dangerous consequences.

Friday, 10th June 2016, 3:00 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:24 pm

A new study by driving safety group IAM RoadSmart has revealed youngsters acting up in the back seat are the most common distraction on the road.

What’s more, the study found 10 per cent of its subjects admitting to having crashed their car because they were distracted. And government figures from 2013 found 2,995 accidents where being distracted was listed as being a contributory factor.

The survey of 1,500 drivers found 29 per cent had been distracted on the move by their children, with 27 per cent admitting they’d also lost focus while fiddling with the radio.

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Back-seat drivers (27 per cent) and mobile phone use (24 per cent) were also cited by the respondents as causes of distraction. And 14 per cent said an attractive pedestrian was enough to make their attention drift from piloting their tonne and a half of metal along the road.

To highlight the risks posed by losing focus while driving, IAM RoadSmart has released a video of a professional driver trying to cope with everyday distractions.

Former McLaren Formula 1 test driver and current Aston Martin GT racer Darren Turner is shown at the wheel of a racing simulator trying not to get distracted by a small child, a dog and a ringing mobile phone as he tackles a challenging race circuit.

The new video aims to highlight a serious issue but present it in an amusing way, showing that even a professional racing driver could lose concentration and potentially have a crash.

Darren said: “I thought it would be easy to ignore a child or a barking dog, and easily be able to take a phone call and keep driving safely. But this isn’t the case. Losing concentration for even two seconds could lead to pretty serious consequences

“If a professional driver can have their attention diverted, anyone can.”

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, added: “No matter how good a driver you are it is very easy to have your focus shifted away from the job in hand.

“We all have things on our mind, places to go and things to do – it’s only human. But it is so important to realise driving is a full-time task and not one to be combined with other things. Multi-tasking is expected in many walks of life, but it simply doesn’t apply on the road – no one can do two things at once if one of them is driving.”