Factors Associated with Cell Phone Use While Driving: A Survey of Parents and Caregivers of Children Ages 4-10 Years

J Pediatr. 2018 Oct:201:208-214. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.06.003. Epub 2018 Jul 12.


Objectives: To examine characteristics associated with cell phone use while driving by parents and caregivers of children ages 4-10 years.

Study design: National cross-sectional online survey with a convenience sample (March 2017-April 2017).

Inclusion criteria: Parent/caregiver of a child age 4-10 years in their home, age ≥18 years, read and spoke English, and drove child ≥6 times in previous 3 months. Adjusted logistic regression analyses were modeled for outcome measures of previous 3-month self-report cell phone use while driving with the child.

Results: The analytic sample was n = 760. In the previous 3 months, 47% of parent/caregivers talked on a hand-held phone, 52.2% talked on a hands-free phone, 33.7% read texts, 26.7% sent texts, and 13.7% used social media while driving with their child in the vehicle. Compared with those who always used their typical child restraint system, participants who did not always use were more likely to talk on a hands-free phone (aOR 1.97, 95% CI 1.26-3.09), read a text (aOR 1.74, 95% CI 1.11-2.73), send a text (aOR 1.65, 95% CI 1.04-2.62), and use social media (aOR 2.92, 95% CI 1.73-4.94) while driving. Higher income, not wearing a seat belt (driver) on every trip, and driving under influence of alcohol also were associated with various types of cell phone use while driving.

Conclusions: Inconsistent child restraint system use, lack of seat belt use, and driving under the influence of alcohol are associated with parent/caregiver cell phone use while driving. Screening and education related to parental driving behaviors should include addressing multiple risk behaviors.

Keywords: alcohol; booster seat; car seat; cell phones; child restraint system; distracted driving; motor vehicle crash; seat belt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cell Phone Use / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child Restraint Systems / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Seat Belts
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States
  • Young Adult