With today’s technology, using mobile devices while driving is more common than ever. But with about 5.4 million non-fatal car accidents occurring in the U.S. each year, law enforcement is trying to really crack down on using phones behind the wheel. And now, a new study has shed some more light on habits regarding using phones while driving.
A national study conducted by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that about half of adults text while driving when there are children in the car with them.
The study looked at a sample of 760 adults throughout 47 states. The adults had children between the ages of 4 and 10. Over a three-month period, participants uploaded data for the researchers to examine.
Along with half of adults texting when they’re driving with children, one in seven participants even goes as far as to use social media behind the wheel.
Rodney Richardson, assistant chief of police at the Richmond Police Department, explained that he isn’t shocked by this data.
“I’ll pass cars and vehicles, and drivers won’t even be looking at the road. They’ll have both hands on their phone and their elbows on the steering wheel… You get on the interstate, and you look around, and it’s awful,” Richardson said.
Unfortunately, even though police officers do enforce the law and write tickets when they see people using their phones while driving, that doesn’t really stop them. Car accidents can be caused by a lot of factors, but the three most common causes include drunk driving, speeding, and distracted driving.
Along with using the phone with kids in the car, the study also found a correlation between cell phone use and other risky driving behaviors, like not wearing a seatbelt and driving under the influence.
The lead author of the study, Catherine McDonald, notes that these numbers show that distracted and risky driving behaviors are not occurring in just isolated instances, they’re happening all the time.
The data shows that 52.2% of respondents talked hands-free while driving with their kids, 47% had taken a non-hands-free call, 33.7% read text messages, and 26.7% had sent text messages.
While the study certainly provides some eye-opening data, the researchers also noted that there needs to be more research done regarding distracted driving behaviors with children in the vehicle. Police officers often say it can be difficult to see kids in the car when driving by. But all in all, researchers hope more people discuss safe driving practices in general, but especially with young children in the backseat.