Another Study Confirms That Parents Use Cell Phones While Driving

May 1, 2014

We tend to think that adults are smarter than children. Over the years, they may have become less inquisitive and more hesitant, but still, all that life experience ought to give them an edge, right?

Apparently, that's not the case when it comes to texting and driving.

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To reach that conclusion, researchers from the University of Michigan, set up camp in the emergency rooms of two hospitals: the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor and the Hurley Medical Center in Flint. In all, 570 parents of children between the ages of one and 12 were asked about their driving habits.

When the data from those questionnaires was analyzed, researchers found that roughly two-thirds of respondents had talked on mobile phones while driving with their child. Perhaps more shockingly, a third or the study participants admitted that they'd texted while driving with their wee one in the vehicle.

In the end, a whopping 90 percent of respondents said that they'd engaged in at least one of the ten distractions listed on the UM survey, which included not only talking on the phone and texting, but also feeding a child and eating behind the wheel. According to lead author Michelle L. Macy, M.D., M.S., "This just highlights the need to consider multiple sources of driver distraction when kids are passengers. Giving food to a child or picking up a toy for a child not only requires a driver to take their hands off the wheel but also take their eyes off the road."

There were, however, some interesting distinctions revealed by the study. For example, non-Hispanic whites with higher levels of education were more likely to admit to using their mobile phones while driving, as well as using navigation systems. 

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The age of the child affected adult behavior, too. Parents of one-year-olds were less likely to be distracted by their children than parents of children age two to eight. (Then again, if you're a parent or a doting relative, maybe that's not surprising at all.)

In many ways, this study parallels the findings of a study commissioned by AT&T last year, which revealed that around one-third of commuters send text messages on the road. It's not encouraging news, but at least the data appears consistent.


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