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Half of parents, caregivers talk on cellphones while driving children: survey

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Philadelphia — Approximately 50 percent of parents and caregivers say they use cellphones while driving with young children in the car, according to the results of recent survey conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Researchers surveyed 760 adults from 47 states who were a parent or routine caregiver of at least one child between the ages of 4 and 10, and had driven the oldest child in that age range at least six times in the previous three months.

Results showed that 52.2 percent of the participants used a hands-free phone and 47 percent reported talking on a handheld cellphone while a young child was in the car. Additionally, 33.7 percent read text messages, 26.7 percent sent messages and nearly 14 percent used social media.

The researchers also found that 14.5 percent of participants did not consistently use a child restraint system such as a car seat. This group was more likely to engage in cellphone use while driving, as were those who had a history of driving under the influence.

“Technology has become increasingly intertwined with our daily lives,” Catherine McDonald, lead author, senior fellow with CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention and an assistant professor at Penn Nursing, said in a July 12 press release. “The results from this research reinforce that risky driving behaviors rarely occur in isolation and lay the groundwork for interventions and education specifically aimed at parents who drive with young children in their cars.”

Distracted driving plays a role in about 1 out of 4 crashes in the United States, CHOP states in the release.

The study was published online July 12 in the Journal of Pediatrics.

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