Backseat battles driving parents to select cars with intelligent features

More than six in 10 European parents 63% admit they struggle to fully concentrate on the road when their children are misbehaving in the car. But even more worrying is that nearly one in three adults 29% reveal they know they are less safe behind the wheel as a result, according to new research conducted by Nissan.

Parents say the level of distraction means they have taken their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel. They also say they have run through red traffic lights, forgotten to indicate, braked suddenly, swerved into the next lane, and even been forced to stop the car completely. As a result, parents are increasingly turning to in-car technology in the quest to keep the whole family safe on the road.

The research highlighted that avoiding distractions is one of the biggest concerns for parents when choosing which car to buy, with one in three 34% saying they would actively look for driving assistance systems when choosing their next car. These could be automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

Crying and screaming tantrums top the list of kids’ misbehaviour 65%, followed by backseat battles between siblings or friends 58%, kicking the back of the driver’s seat 49%, undoing their seat belts 43% and throwing toys around the car’s cabin 39%. It is no surprise that, as a result, parents say they regularly feel stressed and anxious when their kids are in the car. They admit they can arrive at their destination either late or in a bad mood, having had a fight with their partner or even experienced road rage incidents with other drivers.

Many reveal they are taking desperate measures to reduce the danger and distraction caused by driving with kids – 15% of adults completely avoid using motorways or busy roads when their kids are in the car, while others distract them with tablets or smartphones 37%, toys 41% or sing-along music 53% or keep them quiet with sweets 22%.

One in five parents 20% said their kids’ behaviour is at its worst in the car, ahead of getting dressed for school 11%, supermarket trips 17% or bed time 12%.
Mums 67% find it harder to concentrate when driving with misbehaving kids in the back compared to 57% of dads.

Nissan’s most advanced driver assistance technology, ProPILOT, is one solution for a less stressful, more enjoyable driving experience. ProPILOT enhances the driver’s control and confidence by assisting with steering, acceleration and braking. It works in a single lane on motorways and is optimised for low-speed congestion and high-speed cruising.

Designed to reduce fatigue and stress in everyday driving situations, ProPILOT can help improve safety. It is a hands-on, eyes-on technology and the driver remains in control and responsible for the vehicle. ProPILOT is available now on the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle and will be available on Nissan’s pioneering crossovers – the Qashqai and X-Trail – later this year. Other available technologies include Intelligent Emergency Braking helps to avoid and minimise the impact of a collision.

In congested streets and tight car parks, the Nissan Qashqai’s Intelligent Around View Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert provide added reassurance when parking and reversing, warning the driver of moving objects around and behind the vehicle.

A total of 5,000 parents participated, all of whom held a valid driving licence when the survey was conducted. Nissan is a global full-line vehicle manufacturer that sells more than 60 models under the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun brands. In fiscal year 2018, the company sold 5.52 million vehicles globally.

Kids and in-car stress:

  • Parents spend an average of 2 hours and 54 minutes in the car with their children each week, the equivalent of over 6 days every year.
  • One in five parents 20% said their kids’ behaviour is at its worst in the car, ahead of getting dressed for school 11%, supermarket trips 17% or bed time 12%.
  • Mums 67% find it harder to concentrate when driving with misbehaving kids in the back compared to 57% of dads.
  • Mums are far more likely to delegate the driving because of their kids’ behavior, 24% said they had handed over the keys to someone else, compared to 12% of dads.

Jean-Philippe Roux, General Manager, crossovers, Nissan Europe, said: “Any parent knows that family outings are not always straightforward. The smallest passengers often bring the biggest surprises when you are trying to concentrate on the road, which can create a stressful time for the parent behind the wheel. “Driving safely and staying focused should always be the driver’s main priority, and there is no substitute for this. However, knowing your car is fitted with technology that can predict and prevent potentially dangerous situations can help create an overall feeling of calm at the wheel. This, in turn helps drivers keep their focus firmly on the road ahead.”


Key takeaways

  • More than six in 10 European parents admit they struggle to concentrate when their children are misbehaving in the car.
  • Parents say the level of distraction means they have taken their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel.
  • Parents say they have run through red traffic lights, forgotten to indicate, braked suddenly, swerved into next lane, stopped the car.
  • Parents are turning to in-car technology in the quest to keep the whole family safe on the road.
  • Avoiding distractions is biggest concerns for parents when choosing which car to buy.
  • One in three 34%, looking for driving assistance systems when choosing their next car.
  • These could be automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control.