Think of words commonly used to describe the ideal parent of young children: caring, loving, protective. A study by the University of Helsinki shows that by trying to fulfill these ideals while driving, parents unwittingly put their children, themselves and other road users in danger.
The researchers studied data from car accidents in the United States. These are some of the findings from the report:
- Driving with a child as your only passenger is more dangerous than driving alone or with other adults.
- Men are more likely than women to commit offenses such as speeding, drunk driving or driving without a seat belt when driving with children in the car.
- A woman driving alone with children is two times more likely to be at fault in a vehicle crash than a man driving alone with children.
- Drivers with children under 4 year old in the car cause fewer accidents at junctions than those with older children. Yet, they cause more accidents away from intersections.
- Drivers who have a crash with children in the car are at fault more often than the car containing adults only.
Driving with young children is not easy when you are on your own. Sometimes children are not patient and scream and shout or cry to get your attention. However, as this study shows, attending to your child can distract you from driving. The best way to care for, love and protect your child when driving is to pull over to safety and stop before giving them your attention.