If you are a parent you are statistically tip top of the terrible drivers hall of fame, according to insurer AAMI.
The perilous school run
The latest AAMI Crash Index looked at a whopping 340,000 insurance claims. It tells us that over a quarter of all road incidents in Australia between 2018 to 2019 period happened between 1pm and 4.30pm — around school pick-up time.
Further, the worst day for car accidents is Friday, followed by Thursday and Wednesday.
“The new data is in line with recent research that found parents are some of the most dangerous drivers on Australian roads, with more than half admitting to speeding or driving distracted with their kids in the car,” CarAdvice reports.
Putting lives at risk
This is a worrying trend which directly contributes to drivers, passengers and pedestrians being injured – or worse.
“It’s frightening that so many road accidents are happening when children, our most vulnerable and inexperienced road users, are crossing roads in large numbers and congregating near bus stops,” AAMI’s spokesperson, Paul Sofronoff.
“Our research suggests that too many drivers are flouting road rules and are oblivious to the dangers of speeding and driving distracted around schools, putting young lives at risk.”
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Sleep deprived? Distracted?
Research tells us that kids are likely to pick up bad driving habits after watching their parents, which makes this distracted or dangerous driving all the more worrying.
“Poor driving habits such as speeding or using a mobile phone are absorbed by children from the back seat, the research found. This is particularly true of anxious and aggressive driving habits,” The Age explained back in 2015, reporting on an Israeli study into driving behaviour.
Many parents have a cavalier attitude to driving, while others may be overwhelmed or sleep deprived.
In fact a study by SA’s Flinders University shows the effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative and deeply affecting. Parents’ “daytime dysfunction” rises by 14 percent each month if their children have poor sleeping habits.
“Around 30 per cent of babies suffer from sleeping problem, which indicates how many parents may be fatigued when driving,” The Courier Mail reports.
“The problem is likely to affect drivers with older children, with it taking up to three years for some kids to completely sleep through the night.”
The Flinders University study author Professor Michael Gradisar is clinical psychologist at the Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic. He says drivers would do well to treat parent drivers like beginners.
“On the road we become more alert when we see a learner driver or truck driver, but it might pay to be more aware around the parent driving with a child in the back seat.
Drive carefully or stay off the road
Whatever the reason – be it sleep deprivation, lack of skill or carelessness – there is a clear pattern emerging between dangerous driving and parents.
“Despite all the safety messages about slowing down around schools, some parents continue to speed in a rush to pick up their kids or beat peak-hour traffic. But the consequences of this are simply not worth it,” Australian Road Safety Foundation Founder and CEO Russell White told CarsGuide.
“People don’t realise that speeding, even a few km/h over the limit in a school zone, can be the difference between life and death.”
“We urge motorists, parents and children to remain vigilant around roads, particularly in the afternoon, and always expect the unexpected to ensure everyone has a safe first week back to school,” Mr White says.