Our public safety officials have worked hard to educate young drivers on this issue. However, education of our young drivers is much less effective if we don’t lead by example. It is difficult in a busy world to not be distracted while driving. Yet, we must work hard to practice safe habits that our children will see and absorb.
A new survey reveals parents may be a large part of the problem. According to the new survey, “parents are the most distracted drivers on our roads.” Ford Motor Company surveyed drivers in New Zealand and Australia. According to the results:
31 percent of parents reported experiencing a distracted driving incident compared to 17 percent of people without children. And fathers are most at fault. More than a quarter of them reported they were most likely to use their mobile phones while driving to make or receive a call or text without a hands-free connectivity system, 79 percent said they eat or drink while driving, and 57 percent said they would be distracted by another passenger.
Other studies show similarly disturbing results. A recent article published at NPR highlights a study of U.S. drivers by a major car insurance company. The results of that survey are also very troubling:
• 50 percent of parents have knowingly texted their teen while the teen is driving. About a third of these parents expect a response before the teen reaches their destination. (And teens say that when driving, they are most likely to respond quickest when a call or text comes from a parent.)
• 55 percent of parents say they use apps while driving. Nearly a third of teens have asked them to stop. (And 68 percent of teens admit to using apps while driving.)
• 62 percent of parents say they use their phone to check incoming calls and/or talk while driving, either by holding the phone or using headphones or hands-free speakers. Three quarters of teens say they have seen their parents do this, and 50 percent have asked them to stop.
As parents, we face many potential distractions. We spend much of our time juggling our kids’ activities. School. Sports. Dance. The list is endless. The schedule is hectic. We are often pressed for time between events. Bad driving habits like speeding, tailgating, excessive lane changing, eating while driving, texting or using phone apps, are far too easy and convenient.
We must remember that our children are watching our behavior (good and bad). All the safety talk in the world will have little impact if our kids see us continuously driving in a reckless or dangerous manner. Teenage drivers often mirror the driving habits of their parents. As parents, what should we do? We should consciously choose to set the example in our driving conduct as well as our speech.