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By Jordan W. Charness

I’ve been hitting the road a lot lately. Not just by myself, but with the whole family. We thought that when we bought our Saturn Outlook, a truly beautiful and truly gigantic car, it would put an end to family road trip squabbles, or more precisely, to the children’s squabbles as to who would sit in which seat and for how long. Would you believe that children who are the ages of 19, 16, and 12 still yell out “Captain seat! Called it! Shotgun!”?

They have now begun to reserve their favourite seats, not only just before they get into the car but sometimes a half an hour, an hour, or even a day before the next car ride. Naturally, keeping track of who called it and when has become somewhat of a lengthy exercise, particularly since Shelley and I really couldn’t care less. After all, we’re both comfortably ensconced in our all electric fully adjustable leather seats with lumbar support and embedded little heaters to keep us toasty warm in the front seats.

Being the children of a lawyer and an accountant, of course, leads them to a more detailed (because of the accountant) and possibly louder (because of the lawyer) discussion then might exist in other similar families. When our six-foot-plus son is the last to shotgun a seat he usually raises the legal argument that since his legs are longer than those of the two girls, legally and morally he should be entitled to one of the Captain seats in the middle. The oldest seems to feel that she has a divine right to have the seat of her choice because of her position in the family, while the youngest seems to feel that she never gets her way and therefore should always get a captain seat.

All of these goings-on raise two important issues about travelling with children, no matter what their age. Firstly, any type of distraction to a driver in the car can lead to a dangerous situation particularly if a parent attempts to control his or her child by turning around and disciplining the child from the front seat.

A surprisingly large percentage of accidents are caused by driver distraction, which include fiddling with the radio, cell phone or GPS, text messaging, and of course dealing with passengers, especially children. While all of these actions are technically legal while driving, if they lead to an accident, you will be declared legally at fault for the accident which could have implications on your insurance or driving record.

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