Ill. -- Teen girls are twice as likely as teen boys to
use cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, according
to a new in-car video study released today by the AAA Foundation
for Traffic Safety. Electronic devices were the most commonly
observed distracted driving activity for new teen drivers of both
genders, although video captured many other serious distractions
"Cell phones, texting, personal grooming, and reaching for
things in the car were among the most common distracting activities
found when cameras were put in new teen drivers' cars," said
AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. "This new
study provides the best view we've had about how and when teens
engage in distracted driving behaviors believed to contribute
to making car crashes the leading cause of death for teenagers."
Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers is the first study using
in-car video footage to specifically focus on teen distracted
driving. Researchers at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center
identified the prevalence and consequences of various distracted
driver behaviors and distracting conditions among teens during
high g-force maneuvers such as swerving, hard braking, or rapid
the findings: the leading cause of distraction for all teens was
the use of electronic devices, which was seen in seven percent
of the video clips analyzed. Other than electronic device usage,
teens engaged in some form of potentially distracted behavior
in 15 percent of clips, of which adjusting controls, personal
grooming, and eating or drinking were the most common. Many of
the distracting behaviors – including use of electronic
devices – were more prevalent among the older teens in the
study group, suggesting rapid changes in these behaviors as teens
get more comfortable behind the wheel.
played a role in some of the distractions observed. Females were
nearly twice as likely as males to use an electronic device while
driving, and overall were nearly 10 percent more likely to be
observed engaging in other distracted behaviors, such as reaching
for an object in the vehicle (nearly 50 percent more likely than
males) and eating or drinking (nearly 25 percent more likely).
Males, on the other hand, were roughly twice as likely to turn
around in their seats while driving, and were also more likely
to communicate with people outside of the vehicle.
gender differences with regard to distraction observed in this
study raise some points that we'll want to investigate in future
projects," Kissinger said. "Every insight we gain into
driver behavior has the potential to lead us to new risk management
passengers was also found to influence driver behavior. Potentially
distracting activities significantly decreased when parents or
other adults were present in the car. In contrast, loud conversation
and horseplay were more than twice as likely to occur when multiple
teen peers – instead of just one – were present. These
distractions are particularly concerning, as they are associated
with the occurrence of crashes, other serious incidents (such
as leaving the roadway), and high g-force events. Drivers were
six times as likely to have a serious incident when there was
loud conversation in the vehicle, and were more than twice as
likely to have a high g-force event when there was horseplay.
the distracted driving behaviors were linked with instances of
teens looking away from the roadway. Drivers were three times
as likely to take their eyes off the road when using electronic
devices, and were two-and-a-half times more likely to look away
when engaged in other behaviors. On average, teen drivers using
electronic devices took their eyes off the road for a full second
longer than drivers not using such a device.
second may not seem like much, but at 65 mph a car travels the
length of a basketball court in a single second," Kissinger
said. "That extra second can mean the difference between
managed risk and tragedy for any driver."
for this report came from an analysis of video clips collected
as part of a three-phase naturalistic study of 50 North Carolina
families with novice teen drivers. The first study looked at how
parents supervise their teens during the learner's stage of GDL,
and the second examined how teen behaviors and driving conditions
shift during the transition to unsupervised driving. For the current
study, 7,858 clips from the first six months of unsupervised driving
were re-analyzed to investigate distraction specifically.
crashes remaining the leading cause of death for young Americans,
the AAA Foundation has an established focus area on teen driver
safety. For more information on this issue, and to see the full
report and associated video clips, visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
Additionally, AAA offers expert advice and science-based tools
for teen drivers and their families, available by visiting www.TeenDriving.AAA.com.
by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3)
not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and
research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing
injuries on our roads, the Foundation's mission is to prevent
crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic
safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed
to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize
injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop
dozens of focused, high-impact educational materials for drivers,
pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.aaafoundation.org
for more information on how you can join our cause.