You would assume parents are the safest drivers on the road, but a study published in Academic Pediatrics says it isn’t so.1 This University of Michigan study sought to characterize potential distractions among drivers of children using a computerized survey. Adult drivers of 1-12 year old children who sought emergency care were surveyed, with nearly 90% of eligible parents participating. The results–no discernible difference between parent drivers engaging in driving distractions over the general population.
Even more concerning, another survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) finds that, as teenagers, children observe and are quite aware of their parents engaging in risk-taking behaviors like texting and driving without a seatbelt.2 And they tend to repeat their parents’ poor driving habits in equal amounts.
This data correlates with what our experience has been at the Crosley Law Firm. As a personal injury law firm, we see the end results of dangerously texting and driving, or being otherwise distracted. The majority of our auto accident cases include at least one driver who was driving while distracted. We see the direct and personal costs that come from this behavior, and want to do whatever we can to contribute toward a decrease in distracted driving.
We share the concern of Michelle L Macy, M.D., M.S., an emergency medicine physician at U of M’s C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study published in Academic Pediatrics, who raised the question 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… people are often reluctant to disclose that they engage in dangerous (and sometimes illegal) behaviors while driving. But our results do highlight the fact that child passengers are frequently being exposed to the risks of distracted driving.”
Macy’s concern is warranted–the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude of many parents is recognized by two-thirds of surveyed teen drivers in the Liberty Mutual survey, who report that their parents live by different rules than what they expect of their teens.
One of the main sources of distraction in both these studies? Cell phones. In the study published in Academic Pediatrics:
- Approximately 75% of participants admitted to cellular phone-related distractions such as texting or making calls.
- Out of the over 1,700 teens surveyed nationwide in the Liberty Mutual/SADD survey report seeing 91% of their parents talking on a cell phone while driving, and 59% texting, at least occasionally.
- A high percentage of the teens surveyed also admit to making poor driving decisions, with 90% talking on the phone and 80% sending text messages while driving.
Distracted driving activities are also associated with other unsafe driving behaviors. Teens surveyed report that 88% of their parents speed, nearly half of them have driven at least occasionally without a seatbelt, and 20% under the influence of alcohol. These numbers are closely mirrored by the teen’s driving decisions themselves, with 94% reporting speeding, 33% not wearing a seatbelt, and 15% driving under the influence of alcohol.
Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and managing director of global safety, notes that “Your kids are always observing the decisions you make behind the wheel, and in fact have likely been doing so since they were big enough to see over the dashboard. You may think you only occasionally read a text at a stop light or take the odd thirty-second phone call, but kids are seeing that in a different way. Answering your phone once while driving… legitimizes the action for your children and they, will. in turn, see that as acceptable behavior.”
Looking at the results of these two surveys, it’s quite clear that parents are taking unnecessary risks by driving distracted with children in their car, but they are also setting the precedent for their kids that will affect how they drive when they receive their license. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012.3 We are setting the table for these numbers to increase if we continue these risky behaviors.
No one wants to be at fault when it comes to an auto accident, and no one would want to be responsible for a serious injury or an untimely death. Yet we see cases where individuals have been hurt or killed as the result of distractions, and we see the physical and emotional pain that these incidents cause to both the victim and the responsible party.
Teens, start the conversation and speak up. Ask your parents to change their behaviors. 70% of teens who do so reported that their parents listen and change their actions while behind the wheel. Mom and dad, make conscious decisions while driving, like turning off the ringer on the cell phone and buckling up every time you get behind the wheel. Remember–a future driver is watching you from the backseat.
1 Potential Distractions and Unsafe Driving Behaviors Among Drivers of 1- to 12-Year-Old Children Academic Pediatrics, Volume 14, Issue 3, May–June 2014, Pages 279-286 Michelle L. Macy, Patrick M. Carter, C. Raymond Bingham, Rebecca M. Cunningham, Gary L. Freed
2 Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD commissioned ORC International to conduct a qualitative and quantitative methodology to measure teen driving attitudes and behaviors. The study was initiated with a series of focus groups held in Boston, Mass. and Atlanta, Ga., from January 30-February 1, 2012, followed by a survey of 1,708 eleventh and twelfth graders from across the country.
3 Distracted Driving: Facts and Statistics: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Related ArticlesView All Blog Articles
Delayed Concussion Symptoms and Post-Concussion Syndrome Following a Motor Vehicle Crash: The Lingering ImpactJul 12, 2023
Concussions are among the most frequent injuries brought on by car accidents. Unfortunately, sometimes even “mild” concussions can have disastrous effects. While many people fully recover from their concussion, a significant percentage (roughly 15 to 20 percent) still experience persistent post-concussion symptoms months or even years after the initial head injury. And because concussion symptoms […]
How to Deal With a Private Investigator After a Car AccidentApr 21, 2023
After a car wreck, you may feel like your every move is being scrutinized. Unfortunately, it may not be just your imagination. If you notice an unfamiliar car parked in front of your home, school, or workplace; or if you receive a strange friend request on social media, a private investigator might be tracking your […]
What Is the Average Payout for a Rear-End Collision?Mar 13, 2023
You were stopped at a red light, minding your own business. Suddenly, a truck rear-ends you, pushing your car into the middle of an intersection. Now, you’re living with severe back pain and your doctors are suggesting surgery. Your car accident case is worth a lot of money, right? Maybe. The reality is, there’s no […]
Who Is at Fault in a Multi-Car Accident in Texas?Mar 09, 2023
After a multi-car accident, drivers and insurance companies often point fingers at each other, trying to shift blame to someone else. But if you suffered life-changing injuries, you deserve to know exactly what happened, which driver (or drivers) were responsible, and which liability insurance will pay for your medical bills and other damages. But getting […]
I’m Being Blamed for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault—What Should I Do?Feb 22, 2023
“My word against your word” scenarios happen all the time after auto accidents, especially when there are few other witnesses at the scene. Being accused of causing a car crash that wasn’t your fault can make you feel helpless and angry, especially when no one else is around to support your story. Getting blamed for […]
What Is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury (and When Should I File My Lawsuit)?Feb 01, 2023
One of the first questions many people have an injury is, “How long do I have to make a personal injury claim?” While that’s an extremely important piece of information to know, it can also be misleading—and in some ways, the wrong question to ask. Here’s the short answer: In most cases, you have two […]
Who Is At Fault in an Intersection Accident?Jan 15, 2023
Most car accidents happen at intersections, plain and simple. According to the Federal Highway Administration, roughly half of car accident injuries and one-quarter of car accident fatalities occur at intersections. But it can be difficult to determine who is at fault in an intersection accident—with many turning into a “he said, she said” situation. In […]
What Should You Do After a FedEx Truck Crash in Texas?Dec 09, 2022
With more than 100,000 vehicles, nearly 125,000 drivers, and an annual revenue estimated at around $84 billion, FedEx is easily one of the largest trucking companies in the United States. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that FedEx freight trucks are involved in injury-causing truck crashes nearly every day on American roads. In fact, […]
What Happens if You Get in an Accident With a Delivery Truck Driver?Nov 01, 2022
If your neighborhood is anything like ours, chances are you see a steady stream of delivery trucks, vans, and other vehicles pass by your house or apartment on a daily basis. The trend really took off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it certainly shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Nowadays, […]
How to Prepare for a Deposition in a Texas Personal Injury CaseOct 24, 2022
If you’ve suffered a personal injury that wasn’t your fault and you need to file a civil lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve, sooner or later you will likely have to provide your personal testimony in a deposition. Although depositions are not given before a judge, the things that you say will be considered […]
Do you or a family member
need legal advice?
Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death.