SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – We all know distracted driving can be deadly, but studies have shown there's something just as dangerous - kids in the car. To see just how distracting parenting behind the wheel can be ABC 4 followed a busy mother of six as she ran some daily errands.
“I want you to sit by me," cried three-year-old Sophie Anderson.
The afternoon errand run started off a bit rough, but before long it was smooth sailing.
"What are you doing Sophie, playing the Barbie game?” asked Sophie’s mother Paula Anderson.
We followed Paula and Sophie as they went to the gas station and then to the grocery store and the three-year-old did great, but even with Sophie on her best behavior we caught Paula taking her eyes off the road to check out what's going on in the back seat. It was only about two seconds but that's enough time, experts say, for an accident to happen.
Distracted driving is thought to be the cause of 50% of all car crashes. The 2011 Accident Analysis and Prevention study found in an average 16minute long trip, parents spend a staggering 3 minutes 22 seconds looking away from the road; that's like driving almost a quarter of the trip with something blocking your vision.
"If there's too much going on in the car it can be very distracting,” explained Anderson.
So what can parents do? Experts say set up car rules so your kids know what to expect. For example, if they drop something make sure they know the driver can't pick it up till the car stops. It’s something this mother of six has already learned.
Anderson told ABC 4 News, "Sometimes I’ll have to say ‘you know what, I can't do that right now, I’m driving. I have to focus on what I’m doing.’”
And the easy one, make sure the kids have what they need before you leave.
"I had a sippie of water, a baggie of cheerios and one of her toys,” said Anderson.
Experts say keeping the peace in the backseat helps to keep the whole family safe.