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A parenting perspective on the latest headlines
Mar 1, 2013
01:10 PM

Distracted New Moms Drive Dangerously with Baby on Board

A survey of new mothers gives some scary statistics about the way they drive – from talking or texting on cell phones to tending to their tykes

Distracted New Moms Drive Dangerously with Baby on Board

Up all night with baby, and there's a full day ahead. So, you grab your keys, cell phone, bundle of joy and hit the road, multitasking as you go.

Sound familiar? It's called distracted driving – and many new moms are guilty of it, according to a recent joint survey conducted by American Baby magazine and Safe Kids Worldwide, "Is your Baby Safe on the Road?".

The study

The poll surveyed over 2,300 moms of children under age 2, discovering that although 63 percent of new moms felt they drove more safely with their child, their habits don't support their views.

The results show that 78 percent of moms talk on their cell phone, and 26 percent text or check email while driving. It's a fact that driving while talking or texting slows reaction times behind the wheel – akin to drunk driving – and, with new moms only getting a little more than five hours per night, it's doubly dangerous.

Scary stuff when you consider that the study also exposed the fact that 10 percent of new moms have been involved in car accidents with their little ones in the car. That's a crash rate three times higher than the general population.

Laura Kalehoff, executive editor of American Baby, described her own experience as a new, distracted, tired mother in a related article in the Detroit Free Press, which is what inspired her to research the topic.

The facts

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevent describe three types of distracted driving: visual: taking your eyes off of the road (visual), taking your hands off of the wheel (manual) and taking your mind off of what you are doing (cognitive).

The survey results fit in with the CDC definitions. Mothers admit to finding it difficult to concentrate on just one task, such as driving – and 64 percent have taken their eyes off the road to tend to their tyke.

However, technology, as well as baby, play a big part in distracted driving. Many moms find it difficult to ignore the sound of incoming calls, texts or emails and feel the need to answer them on the spot, even with junior along for the ride.

Experts tell us to shut off the phone or put it out of reach, but for those who are still tempted, check out Mashable's list of mobile apps that discourage texting while driving.

A local view

Here in southeast Michigan, Jeff Hardin, co-owner of Michigan Driving School in Roseville, says, "Distracted driving is a huge part of what we talk about."

Hardin, 34, says that teenagers are more likely to be in an accident with other teenagers in the car, so it only makes sense that a new mom would be distracted by her baby. A child could demand the same amount of attention as teenagers demand of each other.

Interestingly, Hardin finds that when he teaches about the dangers of talking on the phone while driving, teens ask him, "What do I do if my mom's calling me?" Hardin tells them, "Pull over!" It's great advice no matter your age.

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