Parents often are distracted when driving their children

July 1, 2014

Parents frequently engage in a variety of potentially distracting behaviors when driving their children, according to a survey of child passenger safety practices conducted among adult drivers (mostly mothers) of 1- to 12-year-olds.

 

Parents frequently engage in a variety of potentially distracting behaviors when driving their children, according to a survey of child passenger safety practices conducted among adult drivers (mostly mothers) of 1- to 12-year-olds.

The computerized survey was among 570 parents who brought their children to 2 Michigan emergency departments for care. Investigators queried parents about how often they engaged in potential distractions in the past month while driving their child. These distractions were grouped into 4 categories: nondriving-related distractions (such as eating, drinking, smoking, grooming, changing a DVD/CD/tape); cellular phone-related; child-related (providing food or picking up a toy); and directions-related distractions (reading a map or directions or using a GPS). The vast majority (90%) of participants disclosed that in the last month they had engaged in at least 1 of the 10 potential distractions investigators examined.

In addition, participants reported succumbing to a median of 4 distractions during the preceding month. Overall, more than 75% of participants engaged in nondriving-related and cellular phone-related distractions; 71.2% disclosed child-related distractions; and 51.9% disclosed directions-related distractions. Parents not only were just as likely as the general population to use their cell phones while driving their children, but they gave food to their child while driving even more frequently than they used phones. Parents of children aged 5 to 7 years were more likely than parents of 1-year-olds or 8- to 12-year-olds to engage in nondriving-, cellular-, and child-related distractions.

Investigators also collected information about other unsafe driving behaviors and found that engaging in child-related distractions was also associated with speeding or driving while drowsy (Macy ML, et al. Acad Pediatr. 2014;14[3]:279-286).

Pediatrics. 2013;131[6]:e1708-e1715

MS FREEDMAN is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. DR BURKE, section editor for Journal Club, is chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. He is a contributing editor for Contemporary Pediatrics. The editors have nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.