Kids Learn Distracted Driving Behaviors from Their ParentsAugust 20, 2018
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing have an important message for parents. Children are extremely observant and mimic their parents’ behaviors. If you do not want your kids to talk, text, or check their social media while they are driving, model good behavior and put your phone away. Unfortunately, an alarming percentage of parents engage in the same distracted driving behaviors that they expect their children to avoid.
According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics, a significant percentage of parents reported that they used their cellphone while driving with their children in the vehicle. In fact, nearly half of the parents surveyed said that they used their cellphones while driving with their kids. One third said that they checked text messages, and one in seven admitted to using social media. In addition to this unsafe, irresponsible behavior, a percentage of parents also admitted to not using their seat belt while driving, failing to consistently use the proper child-safety restraints, and even driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Highlights from the Study
Researchers surveyed 760 adults that were 18 years or older, from 47 states. Participants had to be parents or caregivers of children between the ages of four and 10 years old. They must have driven the oldest child within that age range at least six times in the previous three months. Researchers found the following results:
- Approximately 52 percent of parents surveyed talked on the phone using a hands-free device while a child was in the car, and 47 percent talked on a handheld phone.
- Close to 34 percent of adults said that they read text messages while driving with children in the car. Nearly 27 percent admitted that they sent text messages.
- Nearly 14 percent of adults said that they used social media while driving with their kids in the car.
When parents use their cellphones to talk or text while their children are in the car, they are modeling unsafe driving behaviors, said the Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Health at Penn Nursing. This is concerning because these children are more likely to engage in this type of behavior when they become licensed drivers.
Based on the study results, researchers suggest that clinicians should discuss child passenger safety with the whole family and use it as an opportunity to educate parents about the dangers of distracted driving, as well as the importance of seat belt use and other important safety topics. Parents cannot rely on the do as I say, not as I do method of parenting, particularly when it comes to driving and cell phone use.
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