Are your kids a distraction in the car?

Posted at 5:09 PM, May 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-22 23:47:55-04

The experts beat you over the head with the warning “don`t text and drive.”

But it turns out the more dangerous thing to do while driving is the thing that you must do: keeping an eye out for your children.

Cars, kids and distractions could put you in the crash zone.

Andrea Macduffee is a Chesapeake mother of three. Getting her kids ready for travel is an all-out production.

When parents start their engines, are they fully aware that their kids can be more distracting than eating or even texting behind the wheel?

"You can ignore a cell phone, but it’s really hard to ignore a screaming child, or a child who is choking or a child who needs something,” says Andrea.

Kevin Rafferty is the father of twin two-year-olds. The Virginia Beach dad admits it's a handful driving with Colin and Jack.

"It's a two-person job to drive with toddlers, it really is,” says Rafferty.

But for everyday driving, most times it is one parent who is behind the wheel and that can become dangerous.

A group of parents allowed us to put cameras in their cars so they could see themselves from the outside looking in.

Safety experts analyzed the videos of several parents while driving their kids.

Virginia Tech transportation researcher Charlie Klauer looked at how long drivers kept their eyes off the road, mother of 3 Susan Fallon, was the most distracted.

"Her eyes off the road time, was at least 50 percent there for a good minute to 2 minutes, and that's really dangerous,” says Klauer.

National safety expert John Ulcycki noticed a potentially dangerous situation when David Benjamin, the father of a toddler, reached back while the car was moving.

"He was chewing on his shoe. I wanted to make sure nothing was coming off the shoe that he could swallow,” says Benjamin.

"I wouldn't have done that until the car was totally stopped,” says Ulcycki.

It's a juggling act for parents like Kevin, who can sense something is up while the car is in motion.

"Daddy kept asking what uh oh was, and we didn't find out until we got down the road. I got to a red light and I turned around and somebody got out of their seat belt, so that was the uh oh,” says Kevin.

The experts say the best defense against kids, cars, and distractions is a good offense.

“Just being prepared, if your kids tend to like snack, making sure stuff is there before you leave,” says Andrea.

"This is my life. I love these guys and I’ll take more precautions with these two than I would by myself,” says Kevin.

The experts tell us that crashes and near crashes happen when you least expect it. When you adjust the radio or hand a snack to your child, when you look forward again things may have quickly changed.

So before you hit the road, make sure the kids are secure in their seats, engage them with toys and games so they are the ones distracted, and if the plan works, you won't need to take your eyes off the road.