Study Finds 90% of Parents Engage in Distracted Driving When Transporting Young Children


June 16, 2014

Most parents would not transport children in a car when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but a recent study suggests that parents do not have the same attitude toward distracted driving with children in a vehicle. The alarming results of this study indicate that the majority of parents are unaware that texting and driving and other forms of distracted driving can be just as dangerous as DUI/DWI. Further, parents engage in a range of unsafe driving practices even when young children are in the vehicle.

The study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and published in the May-June issue of Academic Pediatrics found that ninety percent of parents indicated they had engaged in distracted driving with young children in their car during the past month.

Parents in the study also admitted to other forms of unsafe driving with small children in the car. Twenty percent of the parents admitted to drowsy driving with young children in their car. While some parents conceded they transport their kids when impaired by drugs or alcohol, the number of parents who indicated they engaged in this practice was only 5.3 percent. Approximately 50 percent of parents admitted to being stopped for speeding with children in their car.

The researchers were surprised by the results which ran counter to their hypothesis that parents would exercise care when driving with kids in the vehicle. The author of the study explained, "I had an expectation that parents might do a little better in terms of distractions when their kids were in the car, and they might think twice about picking up the cellphone. But our numbers show that parents are using cellphones behind the wheel when their kids are in the car as much as our national numbers would suggest it's going on."

The extent of the risk to kids riding in a car with a distracted driver is revealed by statistics related to injuries and fatalities caused by drivers who are multi-tasking. Approximately 421,000 vehicle occupants suffered injuries in collisions caused by distracted drivers across the U.S. in 2012 according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The authors note that most states have passed laws restricting texting and/or talking on cell phones while driving, but bans on other types of driving distractions are more difficult to implement and enforce. For example, many parents reported feeding their kids or turn around to discipline children while driving.

This study dispels the notion that distracted driving and texting behind the wheel are issues limited to teens or young adult drivers. Our Fulton County auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are committed to promoting vehicle safety for kids, so we encourage all parents to devote 100% of their attention to the road when driving.

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Source: The Nation's Health, Parents Drive Distracted despite Having Young Children in Tow, Study Says, July 2013, vol. 44 no. 5 E23.

Category: Auto Accidents

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