The widespread availability of rear-seat video systems in vehicles, as well as portable devices, has gone a long way toward reducing driver distraction from demanding or squabbling children.
A good thing it is, too, because research from Australia suggests that children are 12 times more distracting to drivers than talking on a mobile phone.
Still, holiday and vacation travels often tend to be longer than normal drives, creating plenty of opportunity for distraction from the rear seats.
A British road safety and breakdown specialist called GEM Motoring Assist has put together some tips for minimizing those distractions and reducing risk.
“In order to reduce risk on a journey, we need to be in control when we’re driving and accept that all our focus must be on the driving task," says GEM chief executive David Williams. "That means we must make a positive decision not to turn round, not to unwrap sweets and not to engage in distracting activities."
He adds: “There’s only 100% concentration available – so by refusing to allow any of that to be taken away from the task of driving, we’re maximizing our safety as drivers, we’re keeping our children safe and we’re reducing risk for those around us.”
Here are GEM’s tips for safer family journeys this holiday season:
> Encourage your children to plan the journey and to choose the items they would like to have easily accessible. Let them select the snacks they fancy (though avoid anything sticky or smelly).
> Have a family chat before you leave and explain how long the journey is likely to take. Let the children know how many breaks you’re planning and what you’ll do on those breaks (stop for lunch, or just a quick washroom visit).
> Drivers, delegate any discussions with the children to the adult in the front passenger seat. If you’re the only adult, then have a chat before you leave and explain that by staying calm and quiet, they’ll be helping to ensure a safer, smoother journey.