• May 9th 2013 at 10:45AM
  • 55

While much attention is paid to teens and their propensity to engage in distracted driving, it seems adults -- specifically parents with young children -- are just as guilty of the risky behavior, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

Researchers surveyed more than 600 parents while their children were being treated at one of two Michigan emergency rooms (the reason they were there did not necessarily have to do with a car accident). They were asked how often they engaged in distracted driving behaviors while their child was in the car over the past month. These behaviors included 10 activities such as talking on the phone (hands-free or handheld), texting/surfing the Internet, self-care (grooming, eating), child care (picking up a toy, feeding their child, etc.), getting directions (using a navigation system, map) and changing a CD or DVD.

The parents also were surveyed on whether they typically use a seatbelt, what type of restraint their child uses and their motivation to use the recommended restraint for their child's size.

The results showed that almost 90% of those surveyed admitted to at least one technology-based distracted driving action over the past month and most parents reported engaging in four of the 10 distractions that were asked about.

Other findings from the study included:

- Drivers of children who were not restrained in an age-appropriate restraint based on Michigan law had 2.5 times higher odds of reporting a child-related distraction than drivers of children who were properly restrained.

- Parents who reported always wearing a seat belt were much more likely to use an age-appropriate restraint for their child.

- Parents of minority race/ethnicity were much less likely to use the age-appropriate restraint compared with white parents, even after controlling for education, income, child age, motivation to use a safety seat and personal seat belt use.

Most importantly and most concerning, though, the results showed that the parents who reported engaging in distracting behaviors were more likely to report having ever been in a crash.

"Our research has identified some high-impact areas to improve child passenger safety," said Dr. Michelle L. Macy, lead author of the study. "Distracted driving while children are in the car is common, and many children are not using the right safety seat for their size."

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  • 55 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      This will be blasphemy to those who trust the government to tell us what to do. Economists Levitt and Dubner write in SuperFreakonomics that above the age of about two, children who ride in government approved (and required) child safety seats are no better off than these same children would be if belted in using only the standard 3-point seat belt found in every car made today. They were unable to find much data comparing the two methods of restraining children because . . . get this . . . the government only tested child safety seats against NO BELTS AT ALL. Levitt and Dubner commissioned their own crash dummy tests to demonstrate what the missing government data would have shown had it been done. Just think how many kids strapped into an IMPROPERLY INSTALLED child seat--ask any safety officer about how LARGE a problem this is--would have been better off had they been restrained by a simple 3-point seat belt that everyone can understand.
      aroldfut
      • 2 Years Ago
      As an expat in the UK I attended drivng school because without learning their strict rules you would never pass. Case and point, a fellow employee reached up and put the sun visor down during her test and was flunked. Any movement like that is considered "Distracted driving".
      Steve-a-rino
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hmmmm . . . and here I thought moms and dads were perfect in every way - at least that's what they keep shoving down our throats. Could it be they are just "normal" like everyone else? If 90 percent drive distracted with kids in the car it means they don't care that much about the kids - it's all the other stuff that's more important. Why people think they have to answer every single phone call or text is beyond me - is it that important that you are willing to risk the lives of your kids? People need to re-think their priorities and then have the balls to make the right and safe decisions. Or, just quit telling me how great moms are - because obviously they are NOT!
        jejozi
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steve-a-rino
        Obviously not a parent. Changing a CD is distracted driving? Picking up a toy or handing a child a snack is distracted driving? Please. And who still uses CDs?
          midsmr2
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jejozi
          Sorry Sunshine! There are kids who prefer music to videos!
      sgard206
      • 2 Years Ago
      I had the misfortune one morning of being behind a driving mom whose focus was totally in the back with her child. Seriously, she was playing/conversing with her child more than her eyes were on the road. Her erratic weaving and braking stemmed from her inattention. Couldn't wait to get around her! Personally, I think we need to make cars harder to drive rather than easier. No more power steering or brakes. No comfortable seats or electronic anything. Perhaps then people would actually drive rather than view their commute as more time for other activities.
      babby201
      • 2 Years Ago
      Funny ,everyone I knew seemed to be free to roam about the back of a Country Squire or something similar while stuffing dairy queen in their mouths as the car flew over hills and around corners at 60 MPH . We're still here , most of this nonsense is for the profit margin of the Insurance industry ,they seem to be the ones lobbying the lawmakers .
        • 2 Years Ago
        @babby201
        The one's that were killed "flying over hills" are not still here. The ones that had heart attacks and died when they were 40 because they were overweight are not still here. Just because some survived, doesn't mean everyone did, and that the behavior does not increase ones chance of injury or death. Please stop with the corny "we're still here cliche.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oh the winners are the Mom's in Cincinnati who who forget their babies in the backseat and leave them in the car while they are working at the schools, In July! Yes, one assistant principle and another school figure, and one more very close, in N Ky. did this. My question is, how could you look at children all day long and not think about or picture what your own child might be doing at that moment? One of the babies literally melted. Yep...it happens. Oh, one mom in a Large PU ran over a 3yr old who got out into the road. The driver kept going (this also happens a lot here) and later turned herself into police saying she didn't know she hit anything. OH COME ON! I know when I hit a squirrel or butterfly.
      paddleman1928
      • 2 Years Ago
      I used to have a problem with the concept of parents putting their children in daycare rather than taking care of the kids themselves. Not I have to rethink that
      emmitch32
      • 2 Years Ago
      And lets not forget the best one.....letting your kid stand in between the front seats while you are driving. I see it ALL THE TIME, especially in mini vans. It is disturbing.
      jlucaschgo
      • 2 Years Ago
      You forgot "changing a radio station" and "conversing with a passenger". Talking to your pit crew during the race would be another. I would guess that 99.9% of drivers are guilty of distracted driving from time to time. Some distractions are socially acceptable. Others are not.
      hpycmpr155
      • 2 Years Ago
      Boo freakin' hoo. How did we EVER make it in the back of a boat of a 1958 Buick with my sister saying "Are we there yet Are we there yet??" and me getting car sick totally unrestrained and totally driving our parents crazy?? THAT was distracted driving!!!!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @hpycmpr155
        Uhhh, just because YOU made it doesn't mean kids weren't killed back then because they werent restrained. Let me guess, "my grandma smoked cigarettes her entire life and lived until she was 90. Therefore smoking is not bad for your health." The "how did WE ever make it" expression is stupid. Some of you DIDN"T make it. That is why they made it a law to restrain your kids.
      lucy444
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hands free talking on the phone is no more distracting than talking to another person in the car. I don't talk on the phone in the car but have missed so many turns because someone in the car was speaking to me or I was answering them. That's just as bad as talking on your cell. I don't like it when folks try to engage me in conversation when I am driving.
        barbaraordarrien
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lucy444
        ANd yet...you DO talk in the car while you are driving. What a hypocrit.
        emmitch32
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lucy444
        I have to be honest, if you can't have a simple conversation with someone else in the car with you while you are driving, you probably don't have the skills required to be a safe driver at all. Get off the road.
          hellyon3too
          • 2 Years Ago
          @emmitch32
          I have to be honest with YOU. Experts in driving and accidents will tell you that talking to a person in the car is just as distracting as talking on the phone. The only difference is that your hands are free. Distraction takes place in your brain, not your hands. If you're engaged in a "simple conversation" your brain is not 100% focused on driving. Multitasking while your driving is dangerous. Period. If you don't understand that, YOU are not a safe driver. You assume you have more skill than you do, and take risks you shouldn't take. Get off the road, before you kill someone.
      nannymel
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's more important to your appointment on time, than saving your child's life? Be responsible and restrain your child properly or don't have children. And for goodness sakes, put the damn phone down. I want to get to my destination too.
        Charles
        • 2 Years Ago
        @nannymel
        It's amazing how that cell phone call is more important to some parents than the child in the back seat. The worst is in the morning when they drop the kids off at school, almost evert driver is on the phone, the doors swing open , out pops the kids, and off goes mom or dad, still on the damn phone.
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