You're a cautious driver and your baby is on board, so you would never do something as risky as texting while driving, right? But that's exactly what some moms are doing, according to a recent survey that turned up the very scary statistic that more than one in four new moms admit to texting or checking their e-mail while behind the wheel.
And that's not all. The survey of over 2,000 mothers (all with children under age 2), conducted by child-protection advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide and American Baby magazine, also revealed several other not-so great driving habits that put new moms in a similar safety category to risk-taking teen drivers. Among the survey's highlights:
- 78 percent of moms have talked on their cells phones while driving with their kids, a habit that is as dangerous as driving drunk, say safety experts.
- 26 percent texted or checked email, which is twice as risky as drunk driving.
- 55 percent of moms admitted to driving above the speed limit with their baby in the car when they're in a rush.
- 64 percent of moms have turned around to tend to their child's needs while driving.
- Nearly 10 percent of new moms have been in a crash while driving with their baby.
Given these alarming answers, it is somewhat surprising to note that 77 percent of moms also indicated they are more afraid of getting in an accident since having a baby—and 63 percent of moms claim they're more cautious behind the wheel since giving birth, despite their responses to other survey questions suggesting otherwise.
So what's going on? It may come down to a case of multitasking mom syndrome. "It's become part of our culture to not just drive, but to drive and do 20 other things... the problem is multi-tasking in the car can lead to tragedies," says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.
However, Carr hopes the survey can serve a purpose beyond just shock value. "As a mother of three, I know there is nothing a mom wouldn't do to protect her child. This survey shows moms the little things they can change in their behavior to make a big difference in the safety of their children."
Will the survey affect your driving habits? Chelsea Norton, a mom from South Dakota, admits she's reached for her phone after hearing the text ding, although she was behind the wheel. But then a close call with a texting teen a few months ago made her see the light—and finally turn her ringer off.
"I have never sent a text while driving, but almost getting into a really bad accident with someone who was obviously texting made me realize how much more dangerous on the roads these days," she says. "My own kids are enough of a distraction in the back; I don't need calls and texts making it even worse. I now have a sticker across my steering wheel that says it all: 'Hang Up and Drive'. It's a good reminder."