Children are more distracting than using a mobile according to a recent poll by Liverpool Victoria Insurance.
Children were identified as the number one reason for losing concentration while driving. These findings support work recently completed by the RAC Foundation which found that one quarter of drivers have been stressed or distracted by a car-sick passenger, and over 60 per cent have resorted to dangerous behaviour as a result.
40 per cent of parents have stopped on the hard shoulder to attend to the sufferer; 12 per cent have sped up to reach their destination quicker; while 10 per cent turned round to help their child without stopping the car.
In spite of this, however, less than half of drivers questioned in a survey* into motion sickness said that they took any preventative steps to avoid the problem. Asked how they prepared for a family car journey:-
- Parents’ top priority was sorting out the food and drink for the journey (87 per cent).[*] Car safety came high on the list, with 76 per cent checking oil and petrol levels.
- Only half the parents checked that car seats were safely fitted (53 per cent).
- One in three packed a sick-bag or bowl so that emergencies could be taken care of safely (31 per cent)
- Just 16 per cent asked their children to take travel-sickness medication.
With half-term upon us, the RAC Foundation is urging drivers to ensure that carsickness doesn’t pose a potential safety risk or ruin the vacation.
Medical opinion estimates that motion sickness affects up to eighty per cent of the population at some time, most commonly when people are travelling by car, air or sea. Only one third of the children in the survey were never sick.
Travel sickness can have a major impact on the family’s experience of the whole day or holiday, not just the journey itself. Almost 10 per cent of respondents to the survey said that it ruined the journey for everyone or left the family unable to enjoy themselves once they reached their destination.
Although there is no cure for motion sickness, it can be prevented in all but some extreme cases. The RAC Foundation issued some general advice for motorists on how to avoid it:
- Over the counter drugs. A remedy, such as cinnarizine (available under brand name) can be taken two hours before the journey and can prevent travel sickness for up to eight hours. Motorists should always ensure that any drug they take has no side affects that could in any way affect their driving ability.
- Alternative therapies include Acu-pressure bands, and ginger root, taken as a drink, in capsule formula or chewed raw in small slivers.
- Travel in the front seat and face forward, keeping the head steady.
- For children, travel games and tapes that don’t involve looking down make good diversions. Anything that requires looking out of the window is suitable, as are word and rhyme games.
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun.
- Choose straight roads – they are less likely to make you feel queasy than winding ones.
- Get plenty of fresh air.
- Travel with a leak-proof container or a strong plastic bag in case of emergencies that catch you before you can pull the car over safely and stop.
Sheila Rainger, Campaigns Manager for the RAC Foundation said:
“Travel sickness is distressing for those children who suffer it and can ruin a journey for everyone. Worst of all, a sick child can distract a driver’s attention with dangerous consequences. Planning ahead to minimise travel sickness is an essential part of preparing for a safe family journey.”
*Online survey for Stugeron 15. 800 men and women with children aged between 5 and 12 were questioned at the end of February 2007. The findings of this research may be freely quoted provided reference is made to Stugeron 15.
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