Distracted Driving: Are Parents Setting A Good Or Bad Example?

In 2016, I wrote a post titled Distracted Driving: Parents Must Lead By Example. In my prior post, I noted that 95% of the parents who admitted to distracted driving also admitted they did so in front of their children. If we expect our children to drive safely, we must lead by example! That means practicing what we preach about distracted driving.

I frequently write about distracted driving on this blog. Why? I write about the topic because it is a key factor in so many serious car crashes we investigate at our law firm. The cell phone is the primary device distracting drivers. Yet, it is not the only form of distraction. We have seen many others.

Education and technology. Many of our articles discuss these two issues which can reduce deadly distracted driving. Yet, education will fall short if parents do not show safe and healthy behavior.

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing just published a study in the Journal of Pediatrics on this issue. Do parents drive distracted in front of their children? You may not want to know the research results. They are startling. Here are a few points from the study:

  • Over a third of the parents read text messages while driving with children during the three month period studied.
  • Over a quarter of the parents actually sent text messages while driving with children during the three month period studied.

A significant number of the parents even used social media while driving with children. Want to read more? The Insurance Journal recently published a short summary of this startling research.

I’ve focused on parents in this article because parents should absolutely lead by example. I think parents should be the first and primary example for their children. Yet, in recent years, the news has also reported incidences of school bus drivers and other caregivers caught texting while driving. Below is a clip from an ABC story in 2015 on bus drivers caught driving while distracted. One driver is even reading from an iPad while driving:

We should really reflect on the new study of parent behavior. A significant percentage of parents were actually reading texts, sending texts, and using social media, while driving with their children. We can do better. We owe it to our own children. We owe it to our friends and neighbors who share the road with us.


At the Blackwell Law Firm, we frequently discuss issues involving distracted driving and impaired driving. We represent people across Alabama who have suffered serious injuries in car accidents. We believe in advocating to reduce these deadly driving behaviors on Alabama roads and highways.