It is highly likely that on your way to work today you encountered a driver of another vehicle failing to indicate while changing lanes. You probably also saw someone else speeding. Or tailgating. Or... well, you get the picture. We all know that the roads can be very dangerous for a number of reasons - one of the most common being a badly maintained vehicle which has broken down and caused a crash - but did you know that misbehaving backseat children are a major cause for road accidents too? That's right - cute, little Tommy isn't as innocent as he looks...

According to a study by Nissan, 63 per cent of parents have admitted that they have found it difficult to fully concentrate on the road while driving their vehicle when their children have been unruly in the back and 29 per cent have revealed that they know they are less safe behind the wheel as a result of their tantrums. In the shocking findings, which involved surveying 5,000 parents all of whom held a valid driving licence, mums and dads confessed to taking their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel to tend to their children. As a result, they 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.

Crying and screaming is at the top of the list of kids’ misbehaviour (65 per cent), followed by backseat battles between siblings or friends (58 per cent), kicking the back of the driver’s seat (49 per cent), undoing their seat belts (43 per cent) and throwing toys around the car’s cabin (39 per cent). Unsurprisingly, parents say they regularly feel stressed and anxious when their kids are in the car and often arrive at their destination late and in a bad mood. They also concede to having had a fight with their partner or even experienced road rage incidents with other drivers due to their disruptive kids.

To help reduce the danger and distraction caused by children, many parents have taken desperate measures – one of which includes totally avoiding driving on motorways or using busy roads when they have their kids with them. Others try to use tablets or smartphones to distract them while some try to keep them quiet with snacks and sweets. The research also highlighted that avoiding distractions is one of the biggest concerns for parents when choosing which car to buy with 34 per cent saying they would actively look for driving assistance systems such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control when buying their next car.

Kids and in-car stress – the facts

1: 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

2: One in five parents (20 per cent) said their kids’ behaviour is at its worst in the car, ahead of getting dressed for school (11 per cent), supermarket trips (17 per cent) or bed time (12 per cent)

3: Mums (67 per cent) find it harder to concentrate when driving with misbehaving kids in the back compared to (57 per cent) of dads. As a result, mums are far more likely to delegate the driving - 24 per cent said they’d handed over the keys to someone else, compared to 12 per cent of dads.