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Dangers of Distracted Driving with Children

Posted in Car Accidents,Distracted Driving on June 28, 2020

Thinking of distracted drivers often conjures up images of newly licensed teenagers and other young drivers texting, adjusting their music, or using their phone in some other way while driving. It’s true. Young drivers are guilty of succumbing to common driving distractions, but they aren’t the only ones. You find distracted drivers in all age groups, including parents who are driving with children in the vehicle. In a recent study, 80 percent of parents reported they used their cell phones in some way when driving with children in the car. Yet, cell phones are not the only distractions parents driving with children face behind the wheel.

Below we provide more detail about the specifics of distracted driving, the types of distractions parents behind the wheel experience, and the dangers parent drivers and their children face.

What Is Distracted Driving?

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has devoted time and resources to study and prevent distracted driving across the state. They estimate that almost 200 people died and more than 27,000 were injured between 2011 and 2015 as a result of distracted driving. The agency defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Like most other states, Louisiana warns drivers of three main types of distractions:

  • Visual distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road.
  • Manual distractions take a driver’s hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive distractions take a driver’s mind off driving.

Some driving distractions are a combination of two of the above. Texting is a trifecta of danger because drivers must take their eyes away from the road, their hands are on their phone, and their mind is focused on sending a message.

What Types of Driving Distractions Do Parents Face When They Have Children in the Car?

Parents who are behind the wheel get distracted by many of the same things as other drivers. Yet, having children in the car can create additional distractions that can lead to dangerous accidents. Distracted driving might occur with children in a vehicle as a result of the following scenarios:

  • A parent trying to help children eat and drink in the vehicle including digging snacks and juice boxes out of a purse or tote bag, helping children open packaging, and dealing with potential spills while driving
  • A parent listening or mediating when young children or teens are fighting or whining
  • A parent running late because of children, so they brush hair, put on makeup, or tend to other personal grooming while driving
  • A parent reaches on the floor or in the back seat because a child dropped an item
  • A parent adjusts the radio or music for children while driving
  • A parent making a phone call, texting, or checking email while driving

Remember that these scenarios are examples of many things that could occur, and they are not mutually exclusive. More than one distraction can occur at the same time, creating a dangerous situation for the parent driver and everyone with whom they share the road.

Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?

When parent drivers get distracted by their children, their phones, and other common driving distractions, disaster can ensue. Three apparent dangers emerge from distracted parent drivers. First, the above behaviors make it difficult, if not impossible for parent drivers to respond to hazards in the road, traffic control devices, and other vehicles. Preventable accidents occur.

Second, distracted parent drivers often enter school zones at least once per day, but sometimes twice. Safe Kids USA, a national organization committed to preventing childhood injuries, conducted a study of school zones, and observed 40,000 vehicles. They found that one out of six vehicles that drove through a school zone had a driver who was visibly distracted. Additionally, large vehicles such as pickups, SUVs, and minivans were more distracted than average size cars. These facts suggest that children in school zones face a high risk of fatality or severe injury because it is unlikely they will walk away unharmed when a large vehicle with a distracted driver knocks them down.

Finally, distracted driving with children in the vehicle puts child occupants at risk for accident and injury. Seatbelts, airbags, and booster seats can only do so much to prevent injury. In fact, little ones can suffer severe injuries from seatbelts and airbags alone. Causing an accident or falling victim to an accident because of distracted driving is an awful proposition that no one wants to go through. Yet, some still make poor choices behind the wheel. The force of a severe car accident often impacts child occupants far more severely than adults. Children are at risk for chronic, lifelong struggles as a result of neck injuries, head injuries, and brain injuries. Those who are not properly secured in their seat risk ejection from the vehicle, getting pinned under seats, or suffering multiple fractures that require reconstructive surgery.

Get the Legal Help You Need After Suffering Injuries in a Distracted Driving Accident

If you have suffered injuries from a car accident with a distracted parent, you likely feel horrible, especially if the children were injured. Yet, parents who aren’t fully attentive when they drive put everyone on the road at risk. If you’ve suffered severe injuries, you’ve had to miss work and medical bills have started to accumulate. Even though the thought of a hurt child in another vehicle causes you pain, you shouldn’t have to deal with the financial aftermath of a car accident that wasn’t your fault.

John W. Redmann has decades of experience helping injured accident victims in New Orleans, Metairie, the Westbank, and throughout Louisiana. Let one of the skilled personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC handle the details of your car accident claim and advocate for you with the insurance company and the court while you focus on healing and recovery. Contact us today online or at 504-500-5000 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your distracted driving accident and determine the best course of action for your case.