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Driven to distraction

Children in the car are the No 1 distraction for drivers, according to a new survey.

A total of 29% of drivers admitted that their kids are their biggest distraction while driving, according to road safety charity IAM.

Busy lifestyles and the constant need to multi-task also score heavily with mobile phone use, texting and social media updates also featuring.

Other top distractions include:

• Changing the radio channel (27%)
• Back seat drivers (26%)
• Sat nav (15%)
• Attractive pedestrians, drivers or passengers (14%)

Interestingly, nearly a quarter of men (23%) admit to being distracted by attractive people compared to just 3% of women.

Distractions are a major cause of accidents with 9% of drivers admitting that they have crashed because they were distracted.

According to police statistics, mobile phone use and other distractions were a factor in up to one 105 deaths on our roads last year.

IAM’s top tips for driving with kids:

• Keep them occupied by introducing games that promote and reward quiet behaviour without needing the driver’s direct involvement
• Portable games consoles or in-car DVD players will keep kids occupied for hours. But don’t forget the headphones – the soundtracks can be just as distracting as the children
• If you are planning a long journey, make sure you’re organised – take plenty of food and drink to avoid constant demands from the back seats
• Allow extra stops. Find somewhere for them to stretch their legs and let off steam, such as a playground or a park. Save yourself the panic and research some local parks and playgrounds where you plan to stop off
• Have a plastic bag (without any holes!) with you in case of travel sickness
• A second adult in the car to look after the children makes a massive difference, leaving the driver to concentrate on driving
• Don’t turn round to deal with fighting kids while you’re still in motion – find somewhere safe to stop first

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “People who think they can multi-task while driving are kidding themselves. If you take your eyes of the road for just two seconds at 30mph, you’ll travel close to 90 feet, effectively blind.”

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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