Millennial Parents Found More Likely to Drive Distracted

Parents born between 1981 and 1996 more likely to read text messages while driving with children in the car

MONDAY, May 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Millennial parents are more likely to text while driving than older parents, according to a research letter published online May 13 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Jennifer Gliklich, of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, and colleagues performed a nationwide, cross-sectional survey of 435 parents. Survey questions focused on the parents' reading and writing of text messages and use of social media, map applications, and email while driving when a minimum of one child younger than age 14 years was in the car.

The researchers found that millennial-aged parents (born between 1981 and 1996) were more prone to reckless behaviors while driving compared with older parents (parents older than 37 years old). Among those surveyed, 294 parents (67.6 percent) admitted to reading texts, and 236 (54.3 percent) admitted to writing texts while driving. The crash rate of respondents was significantly linked to their Distracted Driving Survey (DDS) score. Parents who reported at least one crash had a median DDS score of 20, while those who reported no crashes had a median DDS score of 6. Millennial parents were also found to read text messages while driving more frequently than older parents (42.2 percent of millennial parents and 26.7 percent of older parents). Only 22.4 percent of parents who had taken their child to the pediatrician in the previous year had been asked about their texting and driving behavior.

"We believe there is an opportunity to change behavior by engaging with parents more directly through their children's pediatrician about distracted driving and having apps or programs that people can commit to using," a coauthor said in a statement. "Parents may be worried about being unreachable in emergencies, but this should be a challenge technology can help solve."

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