Parents driven to distraction, study warns

Article date: 10 July 2001

MILLIONS of parents could be putting their family's lives atrisk on the roads, a new study reveals today.

More than nine million drivers* admit to being distracted bytheir children while driving and over four million (one in fivedrivers) have either had an accident or a near miss because oftheir children's behaviour in the car.

In fact, half of parents regularly turn around to tend to theirchildren in the back seat when they need to keep their eyes on theroad, according to Norwich Union's 'Kids and Cars' study.

And a third of parents say that their child has unstrappedthemselves from their child seat or seat belt during a journey.

The insurer's research also shows that parents will use a numberof varied activities to keep their children entertained on longjourneys - with mums more creative than dads when it comes keepingthe kids happy in the car.

Mums are twice as likely to sing songs to entertain theirchildren, while dads are four times more likely to give their kidssweets to keep them quiet.

Robert Ledger, head of motor development at Norwich UnionInsurance, said: "With the holiday season upon us and many familiesplanning their summer break, our research shows that children canpose a real risk on long road journeys.

"Children inevitably get bored and restless on journeys and itcan be difficult to keep them happy and entertained, especially ifthe only adult is the driver. But safety has to be a priority forall drivers, particularly when there are kids in the car.

"So it is important to find as many ways as possible to keepthem entertained and to plan regular stops so children don't gettoo restless. Travelling at night is one possible solution, as thechildren are more likely to sleep throughout most of the journey.But we've developed some other tips to help parents planning a roadtrip this summer."

Norwich Union's five top tips for travelling with children:

  • Make sure that anyone else who takes the children out in thecar - such as grandparents or friends - know how to correctly fitthe car seats and strap the kids in properly
  • Take a break if your child is yelling or the kids are fightingso you won't be distracted while driving
  • Don't show your children how to unbuckle themselves from theirseat belts in case they do so in the middle of a journey
  • Don't set off until you're confident that everyone is securelyfastened
  • Child-lock the car doors and make sure that electric windowsare controlled by the driver


Notes to editors:

Norwich Union commissioned Taylor Nelson Sofres to conduct anindependent survey of more than 300 adults. The survey was carriedout in May 2001.

* Source: Department of Environment, Transport and Regions(DETR) Transport Statistics Great Britain 2000 Edition, and NorwichUnion independent research (as below).

  • Norwich Union Insurance is the UK's largest general insurer -insuring one in four vehicles on the road.
  • CGU plc and Norwich Union plc merged on 30 May 2000 to createCGNU plc, the UK's largest insurance group and one of the top-fiveinsurers in Europe with substantial positions in other marketsaround the world, making it the world's sixth largest insurerbased on gross worldwide premiums.
  • CGNU's principal business activities are long-term savings,fund management and general insurance, with worldwide premiumincome and retail investment sales from ongoing business of over¬£27 billion and assets under management of more than ¬£210billion.
  • From October 2000, the combined life and pensions, generalinsurance and retail fund management businesses in the UK operateunder the Norwich Union brand, while the institutional investmentbusiness operates under the Morley Fund Management brand.
  • Norwich Union's news releases are available on thiswebsite
  • Norwich Union Insurance Limited Registered in England Number99122 Registered Office 8 Surrey Street Norwich NR1 3NG
  • Member of the General Insurance Standards Council

For further information or to arrange an interview contactMatthew Buchanan/Anja Kueppers at QBO on 020 7379 0304 or LizNicholson/Jenny Chapman at Norwich Union on 08703 666868

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