A study group has come up with a formula claiming to answer one of the most vexatious questions of modern times, and the team that carried out the research say the breakthrough will revolutionise all car journeys involving young children for ever.

‘Are we nearly there yet?’ just five simple words that drive parents crazy, often asked even before they have barely left their own street en-route to holiday destinations or Granny’s house, is guaranteed to send stress levels in Mums and Dads through their sunroofs and cause misery for hours on end.

One motorist, Alan Reynolds, commented: ‘If this is actually true then it’s a godsend and might just save me from prison. Because although I love my four year-old twins, Josh and Oscar, to pieces, if I have to take them on just one more car journey I’ll not be responsible for my actions. How we didn’t hit the headlines last year when we were going to Butlin’s I will never know. It took every last ounce of my self-control not to strangle them, but it really was a close thing.’

Head of the three-year project, Professor Hugh Parr, told The Today Programme: ‘The formula is as follows.’

(Journey distance x Tyre pressure +/- traffic jam coefficient ²  minus pothole occurrence density)

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(Jumbo bags of sweets, chocolates & crisps in a box on the back seat – vomit clean up ∂) = Peace and quiet

‘Or put in simple terms – bribe the little bastards with as many sweets and treats as they want to shut them up and endure the mess if it happens. That way you’ll arrive at you destination calm and tranquil and without a criminal record.’