It’s not only teens who text and drive, or engage in other distracting behaviors.
Whether you’re touching up your make-up while driving, handing snacks to your toddler or checking your cell phone for text messages, if your attention is less than 100 percent on the road, then you are a distracted driver.
Even though you may feel like you’re a very responsible parent in every other area of your life, engaging in these driving behaviors puts you and your child passengers at risk.
About one in six fatal motor vehicle collisions in the U.S. result from driver distraction, increasing every year as the ownership of cell phones has increased.
A recent study found that 90 percent of parent drivers said they engaged in at least one of the 10 distractions examined in the study, while their child was a passenger and the vehicle was moving.
The study was conducted in two emergency rooms — at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and Hurley Medical Center in Flint. About two-thirds of the respondents said they’ve talked on cell phones while driving their child. About 15 percent said they’ve texted while driving their child. Drivers in this survey admitted to other distractions, such as giving food to their child more frequently than they disclosed talking on a cellular phone.
These results are consistent with other similar studies done in the general population.
In addition to the danger of an accident, distracted driving also sets a bad example for your child passengers. “Your kids are watching everything you do,” said Linden Police Chief Scott Sutter. “You’re condoning these behaviors by doing them yourself. If you need to turn around and talk to your kids in the backseat, give them food, pick up a toy, etc., you should pull off the road safely to deal with it. It’s the same with eating and drinking. I see it on the expressway all the time.”
Sutter has ticketed drivers for distracted driving, writing tickets for $100 and up for texting while driving. “Whether you’re texting or engaging in other distracting behaviors, if you take your eyes off the road and cause an accident, you could be charged with careless driving,” he said.
The most frequent age group of distracted driving parents is between 25 and 40, according to Sutter. “The convenience of a cell phone is distracting to people on the road,” said Sutter. “The dangers of using it while driving are just not worth it.”
10 deadliest driving distractions
1. Cell phone use
2. Eating and drinking
3. Fiddling with radio
9. Fiddling with car controls
10. External distractions
Source: AAA Public Affairs