Texting and driving with the littlest passengers

A new study from a team of researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Penn School of Nursing found that in the previous three months, about half of parents talked on a cell phone while driving when their children between the ages of 4 and 10 were in the car, while one in three read text messages and one in seven used social media.

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 findings were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Crash fatalities and injuries caused by distracted driving constitute a public health crisis in the U.S., resulting in about one in four motor vehicle crashes. Previous research suggests that causes of distracted driving by parents and caregivers include talking on hand-held or hands-free cell phones or using phones to text, email, or access the internet.

Researchers wanted to identify specific factors associated with cell phone-related distracted driving in parents and caregivers of children between the ages of 4 and 10.

“Technology has become increasingly intertwined with our daily lives,” said lead author Catherine McDonald, a Senior Fellow with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, and an assistant professor of nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health. “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.”

Read more at Penn Nursing News.