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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Oct;75(4 Suppl 3):S290-5. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3182924200.

Distracted driving behaviors of adults while children are in the car.



Cell phone use while driving is common and can result in driver distraction. However, data on the frequency of this behavior with other occupants in the vehicle are lacking. This study investigates whether adult drivers engage in cell phone use with passengers in the car and determines whether the frequency of these behaviors was modified if the passenger was a child.


Subjects (N = 539) who have driven children during the previous 30 days were recruited to complete a survey regarding their cell phone usage while driving. The inclusion criteria of participants were as follows: 18 years or older with a valid driver's license, owns/uses a cell phone, drives with children, and reads English. Results were reported on a 4-point Likert scale (always, often, rarely, and never).


Eighty percent of respondents reported cell phone use in some way while driving with children. As compared with similar behaviors when driving alone or with adult passengers, the odds of reporting "always" compared with "often, rarely, or never" of holding a cell phone in hand was 0.66 when driving with children. No significant differences were noted for the following variables: use of a blue tooth device or use of a cell phone to speak or text when parked.


Cell phone use while driving is common. Distracted driving behaviors, although less frequent, persist when children are passengers in the vehicle. Further research into the effect of cell phone-related distracted driving behaviors of adults with child passengers is needed to address this public health concern.

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