However, the types of behind-the-wheel distractions don’t end there, and there is new research to suggest that another type has the potential to be far more deadly: Young children.
Researchers in Australia have found that children in a vehicle are 12 times more distracting to a driver than talking on a cell phone. Over the course of a 16-minute car ride, researchers found that drivers with children in the car took their eyes off the road for a total of 3 minutes and 22 seconds. That amounts to 21 percent of the time that these drivers weren’t looking at the road in front of them.
In New York City, one needn’t look far for examples. In the case of State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance v. DeCarlo, a mother caused multiple car accident injuries in Queens after she turned around to referee a fight between her children in the back seat.
According to court records, the woman was traveling eastbound on the Staten Island Expressway, near the intersection of Hylan Boulevard. Several vehicles were stopped at a red traffic light as the mother approached. She would later say she was traveling about 30 to 40 miles-per-hour when she turned to look toward the back seat where her children were squabbling. She estimated her eyes were off the road for about 10 seconds. By the time she turned back to face the road, she applied the brakes but didn’t have enough time to avoid a rear-end collision. That crash resulted in a four-car pile-up, wherein each vehicle involved sustained significant damage, and several of those involved suffered injuries.
The mother, later as a defendant in a civil lawsuit, would try to argue comparative negligence on the part of the other drivers for colliding with each vehicle in front of them. However, the evidence revealed all of the other vehicles were stopped, meaning they could not be held negligent. Further, the mother was unable to provide a nonnegligent explanation for her own actions in striking the first vehicle in the chain. As such, she was held liable for the injuries sustained by those in the other three cars she struck.
As distracting as children are, the Australian researchers found that babies may be even more so. (Lack of sleep may also play a role in some of those cases, particularly if the child is under 6 months of age.)
In an attempt to mimic this research here in the U.S., reporters with CBS2 Chicago analyzed the distraction level of a number of parents in the region. In one case, a mother was noted as having her eyes off the road for 50 percent of the entire trip. In some cases, her eyes were removed from the road for a full minute.
Another parent, a father, was seen reaching back to to tend to his infant while driving on the expressway.
Other kinds of common distractions for parents include handing back food, adjusting entertainment systems and simply watching them in the mirrors.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Kids in the car are 12 times more distracting while driving than using your cell phone, May 11, 2013, Staff Report, Daily Mail
State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance v. DeCarlo, Feb. 28, 2013, Supreme Court, Queens County
More Blog Entries:
Too Fast and Furious: Excessive Speed to Blame in Fatal Car Crash, Dec. 12, 2013, Queens Car Accident Lawyer Blog