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Apr 30, 2014 05:49 PM EDT

Parents Likely To Engage In Distracted Driving, Putting Child Passengers At Risk


Parents no less likely to engage in driving distractions like cell phone use than drivers from the general population, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that 90 percent of parent drivers admit to engaging in at least one of the 10 distractions examined in the study examined in the study while their child was a passenger and the vehicle was moving.

According to the study, about two-thirds of the respondents said they have talked on cellular phones while driving their child and one-third said they have texted while driving their child, consistent with other studies in the general population.

Parents also admitted to other distractions, such as giving food to their child more frequently than they disclosed talking on a cellular phone.

"This just highlights the need to consider multiple sources of driver distraction when kids are passengers. Giving food to a child or picking up a toy for a child not only requires a driver to take their hands off the wheel but also take their eyes off the road," Michelle Macy, lead author of the study and an emergency medicine physician at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, said in a statement.

Each year, more than 130,000 children are treated in emergency departments for motor-vehicle collision-related injuries. About one in six fatal motor-vehicle collisions in the United States in 2008 resulted from driver distraction, and Macy says that over time that percentage has likely increased.

Researchers are concerned about whether parents are modeling the right behaviors in front of children who will eventually learn to drive.

"We know there are some limitations to this study, especially that people are often reluctant to disclose that they engage in dangerous, and in the case of text messaging in Michigan, illegal behaviors while driving," Macy said.

The study, recently published in Academic Pediatrics, shows that reducing distractions and discouraging unsafe behaviors could prevent crashes.

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