About half of parents talk on a cell phone while driving with children between the ages of four and 10 in the car, while one in three read text messages and one in seven use social media.
That’s according to a new study by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing).
The study also found a correlation between cell phone use while children were in the car and other risky driving behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt and driving under the influence of alcohol whether or not children were present in the car. The use of child restraint systems (CRS) was also investigated, with the study finding that 14.5 percent of parents did not consistently use their typical CRS when driving with their children. Drivers who did not consistently use their typical CRS were more likely to engage in cell phone use while driving.
“Technology has become increasingly intertwined with our daily lives,” said Lead Author Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, FAAN, a Senior Fellow with CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention and an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health 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.”
The online study found that, in the preceding three months, 52.2 percent of parents had talked on a hands-free phone while driving with a young child in the car, while 47 percent had done so with a hand-held phone. The study also found that 33.7 percent of parents read text messages while 26.7 percent sent text messages while driving with children. Social media also contributed to distracted driving, with 13.7 percent of respondents reporting using social media while driving with children.
The researchers identified a direct correlation between a history of driving under the influence and increased likelihood of all types of cell phone use while driving with children in the car. All cell phone-related distracted driving behaviors other than talking on a hands-free phone increased if a person did not always wear their seat belt while driving with children.
The study, Factors Associated with Cell Phone Use While Driving in a Survey of Parents and Caregivers of Children ages 4-10 Years, was published in the Journal of Pediatrics, July 12, 2018.