Study: Nearly half of parents use cellphone while driving

By Cleveland Clinic News Service

The dangers of distracted driving are well-known and well-documented.

However, a recent study shows that many parents still use their hand-held devices, even while driving with their children in the car.

The study surveyed a group of 760 parents with children between the ages of 4 and 10.

Researchers found that about half of parents talked on a cellphone while driving, while one in three read text messages and one in seven used social media.

Dr. Purva Grover, a pediatric emergency physician at Cleveland Clinic Children's, did not take part in the study, but noted one of the interesting findings of the research -- that parents who were distracted by their phones sometimes did not buckle their children in properly.

"Subconsciously, as we're dealing with the strollers, the diaper bag, the seat belt, the child, and the phone; maybe running through a grocery list, we could get distracted enough to the point where we actually forget to completely buckle in the child," she said. 

Grover said aside from the obvious dangers of parents putting themselves and their children at risk for serious injury from a crash, in some areas, it's even illegal to use a cellphone while driving.

She said it's also important to remember that our children are watching us, and if we demonstrate unsafe behaviors, they are likely to mimic those behaviors themselves.

Grover admits that it's hard to put the phone down, especially for working parents who are trying to keep on top of what's happening at home and what's happening at the office, but she said parents should stop and reflect on what's most important.

While technological advancements are making it easier for us to stay connected in a safer manner, Dr. Grover said the safest thing parents can do is put the cellphone away and out of reach while driving.

"See the big picture, follow the big picture, and do the right thing," she said. "Yes, maybe you were five minutes late, maybe you're not able to call in for that meeting you were planning to, and that's OK, because at the end of the day you want to go back to your family, you want your family to be healthy, and as long as we keep our priorities straight, we should be able to do this.'

Complete results of the study can be found in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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