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Parents Distracted by Cellphones Even While Teaching Kids to Drive

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The other day I wrote about whether men or women are better drivers. Overall, women hold a better view of themselves as safe drivers compared to men, and this turns out to be true according to statistics on risky driving behaviors and fatalities. However, one area where gender doesn’t matter is for teenage drivers, who are more likely to drive while distracted by the various technologies in their car and in their pockets (e.g. cellphones).

Naturally, if we want to teach our children to be less distracted while driving, we need to set a good example. However, a recent study found that parents are distracted by their technological gadgets–even while teaching their kids how to drive. This is a pretty scary thought considering that children often mimic what they see. It’s like the old adage "do what I say, don’t do what I do"…if you have teenagers or have raised children through the teenage years, you know that this advice doesn’t hold.

In a recent survey, the insurer State Farm found that 53% of parents admitted to being distracted while teaching their children to drive. The survey also revealed that teenagers notice when their parents are distracted while driving. In fact, although parents in the survey underestimated their distractedness (43%), 54% of teens said that they’ve seen their parents using a cellphone while driving "sometimes, often, or all the time". Needless to say it’s very important to be a good role model to our children. As Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood puts it: parents stowing the cellphone while driving "is not just common sense safe behavior, it’s a life-long lesson for the children in the backseat."