[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 6-May-2013
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Contact: Susan Stevens Martin
ssmartin@aap.org
847-434-7131
American Academy of Pediatrics

Many parents multi-task while driving kids

Survey shows child passengers often in cars with distracted drivers; many youngsters also not in the right size safety seat

WASHINGTON, DC Many parents are putting their precious cargo at risk while driving, according to survey results that will be presented May 5 and 6 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed more than 600 parents to find out what distractions they face while driving with their children, whether they use age-appropriate child restraints and if they had ever been in a motor vehicle accident.

"Lots of attention has been given to distracted teen drivers. However, our results indicate parents are frequently distracted while driving their 1- to 12-year-old children, and these distracted drivers were more likely to have been in a crash," said lead author Michelle L. Macy, MD, MS, FAAP, clinical lecturer in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at University of Michigan and C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Parents were surveyed while their children were being treated at one of two Michigan emergency rooms for any reason. Participants were asked how often they engaged in distracting behaviors while driving with their child over the last month. These behaviors included talking on the phone (hands-free or handheld), texting/surfing the Internet, self-care (grooming, eating) child care (picking up a toy, feeding their child), getting directions (navigation system, map) and changing a CD or DVD.

Parents also were asked whether they use a seatbelt, what type of restraint their child uses and their motivation to use the recommended restraint for their child's size. Demographic information, including race, education and income, also was collected.

Responses to questions on distracted driving showed the following:

"Our research has identified some high-impact areas to improve child passenger safety," Dr. Macy said. "Distracted driving while children are in the car is common, and many children are not using the right safety seat for their size."

Other findings showed:

"It is concerning that, in our study population, race is playing such a prominent role in the use of car seats. The underlying reasons are not fully explained by differences in education or income," Dr. Macy said. "The impact of parental motivation to use car seats also needs to be better understood."

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To view the abstract, "Disparities in Child Passenger Safety," which will be presented on May 5, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS13L1_2190.7. To view the abstract, "Distracted Drivers, at Risk Child Passengers," which will be presented on May 6, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS13L1_3165.4.

The research was funded by a grant from the Michigan Center for Advancing Safe Transportation Across the Lifespan (MCASTL). Dr. Macy received support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) K23 HD070913-02.

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations that co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well-being of children worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.



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