School holidays are here and the potential for driver distraction from the back seat on road trips long family road trips becomes a big issue again.

We may worry about new drivers and peer group passenger distraction, but parents are just as susceptible.

The silly season

A Škoda study has revealed the three most distracting behaviours that cause drivers to lose concentration behind the wheel.

The brand’s research reveals that parents claimed the most off-putting behaviour in the car by their children was arguing. This is followed by crying, with screaming and fighting in the back seat the next on the list of the most off-putting behaviours when travelling.

In order to deal with these distractions while driving, 53% of motorists said they had taken their eyes off the road to tell off their children. Of those that did so, the majority (79%) said they had done so for up to 10 seconds. Even more concerning is the 11% did so for 11-20 seconds, and 4% even admitted to not concentrating on the road for up to half a minute!

Not a vacation

While many drivers accept that dealing with unruly, tired or argumentative passengers is part of family motoring, the distraction caused by mediating arguments and stopping fights has serious road safety implications. According to collision data from the Department for Transport, in 2021 there were a total of 2,336 collisions with a contributing factor of ‘distraction in vehicle’, an average of more than six per day.

The highway code states that thinking distances before reacting, for drivers, range from six metres when travelling at 20mph, and increase to 21 metres at the national speed limit of 70mph. These reaction times would increase further if the driver isn’t focused fully on the road ahead.

Age old problems

As all parents know, keeping young passengers entertained and comfortable can be a challenge. However the most important thing to to keep focussed on the task at hand – driving.  If necessary, pull over safely at the earliest opportunity and deal with the issue in a safe environment. Otherwise you are endangering yourself, your passengers and other road users.