Teens Aren’t the Only Dangerous Drivers: Scary Facts on Parental Cell Phone Use

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May 6, 2013

People joke about it. You leave work, see a coworker swerving on the road as they were answering a text, and tease them about it the next day. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t funny. A few years ago, you only had to worry about people under the influence of drugs and alcohol having an erratic driving pattern. Now we have the addition of distracted driving.

As a result, more and more initiatives are in place to discourage people from engaging in the dangerous habits that claim lives every day.  An episode of Glee broached the subject when a character was temporarily paralyzed following a texting-related car accident.

Many people assume that only young adults engage in the risky behavior but the truth is far more horrifying.

A new report shows that the majority of parents, nearly 90% of the 600 who participated in the survey, admitted to being distracted while driving with their young children (between 1 and 12 years old) in their vehicle.  Even more surprising is the fact that parents who had higher incomes and had completed higher education were the most likely to be distracted.

The top reasons why these mothers and fathers were not paying attention to the road involved cell phone usage.  Most commonly, they took phone calls (70%) but at least 10% also admitted to texting while driving.

Parents also admitted to other distractions including eating, drinking or smoking while driving and also confessed to feeding children and picking up toys while behind the wheel.  Interestingly, the parents who said they had issues with being distracted were also more likely to have been involved in a car accident at some point.

Many could reasonably argue that we all have lost our focus while driving – but there is one thing that there really is no excuse for. In the survey, the participants were asked if they were properly using child restraints such as car seats, boosters and seat belts. The people who admitted to improperly using restraints were also two and a half times more likely to report being distracted. Clearly, this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

We all know how busy life can be and it can be tempting to leave everything until the last minute but when you get behind the wheel, put the phone away and take those extra few minutes to set up your GPS system before you leave the driveway or to pull into a parking space and eat a few fries after hitting the drive-thru.  It could save your own child’s life.

For more information on distracted driving, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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