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More Than Half of Moms Admit Multitasking While Driving

By Katherine Stone |


More than half of mothers admit to driving distracted.

I admit.  I’ve driven distracted, with my kids in the car.

I’ve started reminding myself that the two most precious things in the world to me are in the backseat whenever I feel the urge to do something while driving, and I’m doing much better.  Like me, though, it appears lots of moms don’t stop multitasking once they get behind the wheel.

Good Housekeeping partnered with Yahoo Shine! to find out whether moms are multitasking during driving and 55% said yes.  What’s distracting them?

  • Listening to music
  • Talking to another person in the car
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Sending or receiving text messages

One of the more common, and more dangerous, distractions cited was cell phone use.  I live in Georgia, where we can still use our phones and are not required to use hands-free devices, so I’m guilty of driving and chatting on the phone, as are most of the people I know.

The Good Housekeeping survey found:

Cell phone use while driving is particularly pervasive: 59% of moms admit to answering their cell phones while driving at least sometimes — and a full quarter answer their phone often or every time it rings. Nearly half (48%) say they’ve made calls from behind the wheel at least occasionally, and nearly one in five make calls even more frequently. And yet, about 70% think chatting on a phone while driving is distracting. Research supports this opinion: Study after study confirm that using a phone while driving decreases reaction time, takes drivers’ eyes off the road, and leads to speed fluctuations and lane swerving — all of which add up to a greater likelihood of accidents.

Just 22% of moms admit to reading text messages or e-mails at least sometimes while driving, and 18% admit to sending them.  This is much lower than the 77% who text while driving figure cited by Oprah when she kicked off her No Phone Zone campaign last year to get people to stop texting while driving.  Either Oprah’s campaign is working, or some of the Good Housekeeping survey respondents were not telling the truth.

Finally, it turns out the stereotypical descriptions of women drivers did not hold up in the Good Housekeeping survey.  Only 4% said they fix their hair or makeup.

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About Katherine Stone


Katherine Stone

Katherine Stone is the founder of the most widely-read blog in the world on postpartum depression, Postpartum Progress. She writes about parenting and maternal child health on Babble Voices and Babble Cares, as well as at Huffington Post Parents. Katherine is a mom of two and lives in Atlanta. Follow her on Twitter at @postpartumprog. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katherine's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “More Than Half of Moms Admit Multitasking While Driving

  1. Lindsay says:

    There is research that dialing your phone, looking down to answer, etc is dangerous; however, from what I’ve seen there is no research that states how the act of talking on your phone is any more of a distraction than talking to your kids or other people in the car. In other words, if you do hands free phone commands (And I don’t mean the kind that sit in your ear and block out noises) driving while talking on the phone isn’t that different than talking to a passenger or singing to the radio. I think there are people who can talk and drive and there are people who can’t. The problem is most people think they can do this and suck at it.

    I’m open to any research that explains how talking on the phone and talking to your passenger differ. I’m not a phone talker at all so either way, it doesn’t affect me much.

  2. Andrea says:

    I hate the word “multitasking”. It sounds like a proxy for “super productive”, but what it really means is “doing a crap job of multiple things at once”. You don’t talk on the phone while driving, and you don’t have deep converstions with anyone else in the car while driving, either. How difficult is it? I suppose if people were more concerned with doing ONE job really well, this wouldn’t even be an issue, but welcome to the “hire others to do everything for me so I can feel super busy and important” mindset of modern society.
    I’m pleased to see the conservative backlash that seems to be mounting by the day. All the kids raised by these “multitaskers” are likely to choose a vastly different sort of life. And amen to that!

  3. Keesha Beckford says:

    The problem is that being in a car is the most free time most moms have. The kids are strapped in and can’t hurt themselves (note: I said hurt themselves). All a mom has to do is drive – one thing, not sixty, as there are things to do around the house. This makes us think that we should use our time wisely and get something else done, or maybe call that friend we’ve been meaning to for three weeks. Of course, we are potentially putting our family at great risk. I think we push that part way back into our consciousness.

    Somehow, these days we have gotten the (extremely erroneous) message that not multi-tasking equals slacking.

    We mothers cannot and will not slack.

    The mulit-tasking and the rushing makes us monsters behind the wheel.

  4. lam says:

    Driving a car is inherently unsafe. There is a point at which we must stop analyzing all of our actions and face facts: life is full of potential danger and potential mistakes. Each of us makes our own choices for what risks shall be tolerated and life goes on.

  5. goddess says:

    OMG- is the day coming where you will not be permitted, by law, to TALK in the car? Give me a break Andrea, if one can’t talk in the car while driving then one is pretty close to brain-death. @@

  6. michelle says:

    Lindsay — there is research showing that just the act of talking to someone on the phone, even handsfree, is as distracting as drunk driving with a 0.08 blood alcohol level.

  7. michelle says:

    LAM — you may make your own choices, but if you’re o the phone and you crash your car into someone and kill them, did they make that choice?
    Also…here in IL we have a handsfree law, but it doesn’t seem to matter. When I drive I still see people holding a phone to their ear and yakking away while driving at 80mph. Sometimes they have a cigarette or food in their other hand. WHICH HAND IS ON THE WHEEL?? Seriously. I am so glad we have good public transportation here. At least we know el operators are focused on what’s in front of them., because it’s their job.

  8. lam says:

    Yes, Michelle, I make my own choices. And so do you and every other driver on the road. I don’t think many of us choose death, but we die nonetheless. I am not responsible for making your world perfectly safe, or anything even approaching it. I might kill you with my car simply because I’m thinking about something else. Or I sneeze & don’t see something important. Or maybe I’m distracted by my kids. Oooh, no driving with kids! There is no end to the number of variables that contribute to traffic accidents. There is a point at which your desire for an unattainable amount of safety is simply too high a cost to the rest of the population. And if you’re watching what all the other drivers have/don’t have in their hands, you’re not paying the attention you expect from other drivers.

  9. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for the research citing, Michelle. I would like to see more apples to apples research done this. As one commenter on the site put it:

    “The article suggests that the study compared drivers who were talking on cell phones to drivers who weren’t talking at all, but I think the more relevant comparison would be to drivers who were talking to other people in the car. Outlawing cell phone use while driving only makes sense if either (a) such conversations really are significantly more dangerous than those with passengers, or (b) we forbid all conversations by drivers, whether telephonic or in person.”

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