Babies bring new parents endless amounts of joy and happiness, but they also bring sleepless nights and distractions – both of which can seriously impair a new parent’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
In fact, a study conducted last year revealed that an astonishing 10 percent of new mothers have had an accident with a baby in the car – an amount that is about three times the average for all drivers. As any new parent will tell you, there are countless distractions and disruptions while on the road, including fatigue, sleep deprivation, and incessant crying from the backseat.
A survey conducted by “American Baby” and Safe Kids Worldwide found that 63 percent of the roughly 2,400 new moms polled considered themselves to be more cautious behind the wheel, but the actual results showed that the level of distraction that new moms experience is on par with that of a teen driver or a newly licensed driver.
The survey also revealed that:
- Two-third of moms find it difficult to concentrate on a single task since having kids.
Nearly three-quarters of new parents say that they are more flustered in their daily lives since having kids, and that lack of focus often continues when parents get behind the wheel. “It’s become part of our culture to not just drive, but to drive and do 20 other things,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. If you have a fussy child in the backseat, you should pull over to deal with the child’s needs, instead of diverting your attention while driving.
- 78% of moms talk on the phone, and 26% email or text, while driving with a baby in the car.
According to David Strayer, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and a leading researcher on car accidents and distracted driving, “Research shows you’re four times more likely to have an accident when you talk on your cell, even hands-free[, which is] the same risk as driving drunk. When you text or email, your odds of having a crash shoot up eightfold, making it twice as risky as drunk driving. It’s ironic, because if you ask moms if they’d ever drink and drive with their baby in the car, they’d say to you, ‘Absolutely not!’ But people don’t consider cellphone use to be equally, if not more, dangerous.”
- New moms drive on less sleep than truck drivers (an average of 5 hours and 20 minutes for new moms versus 6 hours and 50 minutes for truck drivers).
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 56,000 crashes a year are attributed to driving while drowsy. “Just one night on such little rest will slow your reaction time behind the wheel,” Dr. Strayer says. Even if you think your eyes are open, it’s possible for you to fall into a brief three- to four-second episode of sleep in traffic without realizing it.
- Six out of 10 moms haven’t had their car seat checked by a child-passenger-safety technician.
When used properly, a child-safety seat can reduce auto accident fatalities among infants by 71 percent, according to the NHTSA, yet statistics show that three out of four car seats are not used correctly. Parents should have their child’s car seat checked out by a safety professional. Often times, inspection sites will offer free inspections several times throughout the year.
The Chicago car accident lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are dedicated to promoting driver safety and helping to keep Illinois’ roadways safe. If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Chicago car accident lawyers.