In a study conducted by the child protection advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide and American Baby magazine, there were some very alarming results. 2,396 new mothers participated in a survey which revealed that 78% of mothers with children younger than 2 years of age admitted to speaking on a hand held cell phone while their babies were in the car, and 26% acknowledged that they had texted or checked their email while they were driving!
These distracted driving results are similar to percentages seen in teenage drivers. Although the mothers note that they have become more cautious since giving birth, 63% also stated that they had turned around while driving their vehicles to attend to their children in the back seat while driving, rather than pulling over to do so.
The survey also found that 10% of new mothers who were driving approximately 150 miles per week had been in accidents while driving with their children in the car. This accident rate is almost 3 times that of the general driving population and again approximates the accident frequency of teenage drivers, which is quite astonishing. Teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are involved in car crashes four times as often as drivers 20 or older. The president of Safe Kids Worldwide recommends the common sense measures of drivers leaving their cell phones in the back seat and pulling over if their children need to be attended to. Without question, there are emergencies which might require the use of a cell phone while in the car, (sudden health issue, for example). However, there can’t be any explanation for either texting or checking e-mails while driving, and this appears to be a prevalent issue in 2013.
The executive editor of American Baby, Laura Kalehoff, described that the idea for the survey was derived from her own experience in 2007, when she was driving with her 9 month old baby in the car. Kalehoff drove through a stop sign and stropped several feet later, when she was rear ended by another vehicle. She recognized that she was too tired and distracted to be driving, and decided to conduct a study to determine how common this issue was among new mothers. Apparently, it is a widespread problem.
One solution which has been mentioned recently is for the implementation of technology which would render cell phones inoperable while a vehicle is in motion. I have noticed that even with Bluetooth, having a serious conversation with a family member, friend or client while driving can cause a loss of focus on road conditions, traffic controls, and location, and have decided that if the conversation is important enough, I pull over or wait until at my destination to complete the call.