A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that about 50 percent of parents hold conversations on their cellphones while driving with their children between the ages of 4 and 10 are in the car. The study, written by a team of researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, found that one in three parents are reading text messages, and one in seven are using social media while in the same situation as described above.
The study also found a correlation between cell phone use while children are in the car and other risky driving behaviors, including driving under the influence of alcohol and not using their seat belts.
If you’re one of these people, you don’t have to admit it to us, but you should know that distracted driving (which is using your cell phone in any way while driving) is responsible for around one in four motor vehicle crashes. If you’re surrounded by three cars, and you’re the only one using your cell phone while driving, you could be that cause of an accident. And what parent would want to be involved in a motor vehicle crash if your children are in the car?
“Technology has become increasingly intertwined with our daily lives,” explained Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, FAAN, lead author and a senior fellow with CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention and an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Family and Community Health Department at Penn Nursing. “The results from this research reinforce that risky driving behaviors rarely occur in isolation, and lay the groundwork for interventions and education specifically aimed at parents who drive with young children in their cars.”
So basically that means that if you’ve driven while distracted once, it wasn’t an isolated incident. It also means you’re teaching your children bad habits.
This was not a small study—the researchers used an online sample of 760 adults from 47 states, and the respondents had to be at least 18 years old, be a parent or routine caregiver of a child between the ages of 4 and 10, and had driven the oldest child between those ages at least six times in the preceding three months.
The results—in those three months, while driving with a child in the car:
- Fifty-two percent of parents/caregivers had talked on a hands-free phone
- Forty-seven percent had done so with a hand-held phone
- Over 33 percent of parents read text messages
- Almost 30 percent sent text messages
- Almost 14 percent reported using social media while driving
“When clinicians are discussing child passenger safety with families, they can use the opportunity to ask and educate about parental driving behaviors such as seat belt use and cell phone use while driving,” McDonald reported. “This type of education is especially pivotal today, as in-vehicle technology is rapidly changing and there is increased – and seemingly constant – reliability on cell phones. However, it is also important to note that even parents who did not engage in risky behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt as a driver or driving under the influence of alcohol, still used their cell phones while driving.”
At BMR Insurance, we encourage safe, responsible driving at all times, but especially when a young child or passengers are in the car. And remember—if you’re driving distracted on your own, you could easily be the cause of an accident, harming yourself and potentially others in cars around you, even pedestrians. Think about using an app to block texting while driving—for your phone and for that of the young drivers in your family.
If you’ve just had a son or daughter pass their driving test, please give us a call (714-838-1911) or email us to make sure your auto insurance is up to date and covers the whole family. Stay safe on the roads!