One out of every four parents use a mobile phone while driving and one in every 10 parents jump traffic signal even when they are travelling in a car with their children. These are the findings of a survey on what children observe when their parents and guardians are behind the wheel.

The survey recently conducted by India Road Safety Collaboration (IRSC), an organisation of students led by IITians, and automobile major Ford across 17 public schools among in Delhi, Gurugram, Jaipur and Ferozpur in Punjab has thrown up interesting aspects of road safety habits and practices. The survey was conducted in April and May among close to 10,000 students, who also shared the ratings with their parents and then got them to sign it.

According to the survey findings, there is higher rate of compliance of traffic rules in mega cities in comparison to the relatively smaller ones, which indicates how the greater presence of traffic police and fear of getting caught compel people to follow the rules. The high share of parents using mobile phone while driving cars with children across cities is a major concern since this has emerged as the biggest cause of distraction for drivers.

In 2016, at least 2,100 people had died in road accidents caused due to use of mobile phones while driving, according to a the latest government report. Experts maintain the actual number would be much more since police hardly carries out investigation in to road accident cases and records the actual reason. “This also gives us an insight to why young drivers are growing with little sense of following traffic rules despite so much of awareness campaign and media reports of fatal crashes. They learn more from what they see their parents doing and not what is taught to them,” K K Kapila, president of International Road Federation.

However, the study findings have also brought out certain good practices such as parents using seatbelts, asking their children to take the rear seat and asking them to wear the seatbelt as well. The compliance in these parameters was over 90%, according to the study. Interestingly, nearly 70% “thought/ said” that their cars have got air-bags, which experts said was the perception of the school kids and may not be a reality considering almost all economy model cars in India don’t have air bags. The government has now made it mandatory for every car manufactured from July next year.

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