A comprehensive new study by AAA has revealed insight into exactly what teenagers are being distracted by behind the wheel, with teenage girls 50 percent more likely than their male counterparts to be on the phone, texting or using another electronic device.
The new study, Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers, is the first of its kind to document distracted driving by teenagers by using in-car video cameras and has revealed a slew of distractions among both males and feemales.
Results of the study show that teenage males were twice as likely to turn around in their seat while driving and more likely to talk with someone outside the vehicle. Females, on the other hand, were 50 percent more likely to reach for an object while driving and 25 percent more likely to be distracted by eating or drinking.
Overall, however, electronic devices were found to be the number one cause of distracted driving; something observed in 7 percent of the clips. A total of 15 percent of videos showed some type of distracted driving. The data also shows that older teenagers were more likely to be distracted, suggesting a complacence once they’re more comfortable behind the wheel.
Driving with multiple passengers was also found to be a major cause of concern. The study shows that loud conversations and “horseplay” were twice as likely when multiple passengers were present (rather than just one), and drivers were six times more likely to have a “serious incident” when there was loud conversation in the car. Conversely, distractions decreased significantly with an adult present.
“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.”
“The 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 strategies.”
Data for the AAA study came from video clips from 50 North Caroline families with teenage drivers. First analysts studied how teens behave during the learner stage with a parent next to them, then for this most recent study a total of 7,858 clips were examined from the first six months of unsupervised driving.
Car crashes remain the number one cause of death among young Americans.