Parents who reported using their phone while driving young children in a moving vehicle were more likely to have demonstrated other risky behaviors, including driving under the influence, not using a seatbelt and not using proper child restraint systems, according to the study.
“Deterring cellphone use while driving is going take a multi-pronged approach,” McDonald said, pointing to increased law enforcement, insurance penalties and health-education counseling as possible solutions. But thus far, insurance companies and police departments have been fairly lenient in terms of identifying and punishing distracted drivers. Laws banning the use of hand-held phones have also had little effect.
Beyond the immediate consequences, McDonald said she’s worried that parents who text and drive may encourage their children to model that behavior when they eventually take the wheel.
“We want to help parents understand the risk associated with these behaviors,” McDonald said. “Parents want to keep children safe, but this behavior places their children at crash risk.”