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Parents worse drivers than teens

2013-05-07 11:43

TSK, TSK, MOM: According to a study in the US, parents are much more distracted than teens when driving. Image - YouTube

DETROIT, Michigan - Not only teenagers and business executives engage in distracted driving. A study has found that parents chauffeuring their pre-teens are among the worst offenders.

Here's how come, thanks to a feature in the Detroit News.

• Researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed more than 600 parents and almost 90% of them reported engaging in at least one technology-based distraction while driving their child in the given month.

• Most admitted to four of 10 distracted behaviours. Self-admitted guilty drivers were more likely to report having been in a crash.

Lead author Michelle Macy, a clinical lecturer in emergency paediatrics at the University of Michigan, said: "Lots of attention has been given to distracted teen drivers but our results indicate parents are frequently distracted while driving their pre-teen children and are more likely to crash."


Parents were surveyed, DetNews writer David Shepardson reported, while their child or children were being treated at one of two Michigan emergency rooms - for any reason - between October 2011 and May 2012 and asked "how often have you engaged in distracting behaviour while driving with your child over the preceding month?"

Among the distractions:
• Talking on the phone — hands-free or hand-held.
• Texting or surfing the Internet.
• "Self-care" such as grooming or eating.
• Child care activities like feeding the child or picking up a toy.
• Getting directions from a navigation system or map.
• Changing a CD or DVD.

Macy said: "Our research has identified some areas to improve child passenger safety. Distracted driving while children are in the car is common."

Despite a growing number of restrictive US laws and media campaigns advising drivers against taking or making calls or texts behind the wheel, the DetNews said, a US government study released in March 2013 found more than 660 000 American drivers were doing such things at any given time during daytime hours says the Detroit News.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the number of wrecks in which drivers were distracted declined in 2011 but the number of people killed in those crashes rose by eight percent in 2011 to 3331, accounting for 10% of all traffic deaths,

The federal agency says traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for people aged five to 33, despite declining fatalities in recent years, Shepardson reports. The government is trying to prod all drivers to stop driving while distracted. The US Transportation Department issued long-delayed guidelines in April 2013 intended to discourage automakers from installing devices that allow drivers to text from behind the wheel or linger over touch-screens.

They included avoiding in-car devices that display Web content, text messages or similar content; 39 states plus the District of Columbia ban text-messaging for all drivers and 10 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all drivers from using a hand-held cellphone Shepardson reports.

Many states also impose additional restrictions on teen drivers, among them banning any calls.

Do you have bad habits when driving? Tell us what distracts you behind the wheel? Email us and we'll publish your anonymous thoughts or use the Readers' Comments section below...

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