Research by the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety has revealed teenage girls are twice as likely as their male counterparts to use devices like cell phones while driving. The study used video taken of young drivers while they were behind the wheel to determine how teenagers engage in distracted driving. While talking on the phone and texting ranked among the highest sources of distraction, personal grooming and reaching for objects in the vehicle also played significant roles. Outside of using electronic devices, AAA found teens were distracted around 15 percent of the time while behind the wheel.

Girls were also found to be 10 percent more likely than their male counterparts to be engaged in other distracted driving activities. AAA found the young ladies to be 50 percent more likely to attempt to reach for something in the vehicle and 25 percent more like to eat while operating a vehicle.

Of course, driving with passengers in the vehicle also contributed to distraction, while having a parent or adult in the vehicle caused rates of distracting behavior to fall off. Shocking stuff we know. Hit the jump for the full AAA press release.
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AAA: Teen Girls Twice as Likely as Teen Boys to Use Electronic Devices While Driving

AAA Foundation in-car camera study shows distractions vary by gender and other factors

AURORA, Ill., March 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 as well.

"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."

Distracted 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 acceleration.

Among 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.

Gender 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.

"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."

Driving 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.

Additionally, 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.

"A 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."

The data 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.

With traffic 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.


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  • 63 Comments
      THE 507
      • 2 Years Ago
      More and more often I see a lone car sitting at a green light not moving. And it's usually on a big boulevard with at least three lanes and traffic moving up on it from behind sometimes doesn't see that it isn't moving. Why isn't it moving? Cause lil' Megan is still texting her friend Madison and has NO CLUE that the light turned green 30 seconds ago . . . (it's getting worse guys . . . it REALLY is . . . )
      Generic
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cause girls gotta yakety yak yak yak.
      Jorge Felix Marrero
      • 2 Years Ago
      breaking news: also more likely to get pregnant
      TomDickHarry
      • 2 Years Ago
      Aside from the desire for constant desire for social stimulation, it seems fewer women than men understand the physics in play when it comes to accelerating, braking, and turning a vehicle that weighs two or more tons.  More men tend to form a personal bond with their car and as a result take better care of their vehicles, whereas women treat their car more like appliances.  How many times have you heard a woman say "It's just a car!"?
        Hazdaz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TomDickHarry
        +1 Most (not all) guys have SOME idea of how long it takes for a car to stop from 60mph or conversely, how long it takes a car to accelerate up to 60 mph. Hell, drolling over 0-60 times in magazines is what most guys do before they get their license. They have a certain level of understanding of the physics involved - you can't merge into traffic in 2 seconds - you need time to build up that speed. Girls on the other hand (not all, of course), just don't care enough about cars to ever learn this type of stuff. They don't care that you need a certain amount of room to safely stop, or that car behind them needs a certain amount of notice before you try to merge into their lane.... and if you dare honk your horn at them for cutting you off, you are the one labeled a "jerk". :rolleyes: Throw in easy access to a cellphone these days and you have a recipe for disaster. The sooner hand-held phones are banned, the better.
      Dennis Baskov
      • 2 Years Ago
      I find it more surprising that males like us under age 25 have to pay more, who came up with this world-wide policy, teenage girls?!
        Hazdaz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dennis Baskov
        Females probably CAUSE more accidents (because we have to drive around them when they are hogging the left lane, or we are the ones that tend to swerve when they come into our lanes). They usually get off asthe accident not being their fault, or they don't actually make any contact and drive off, or if they do get involved, they can shed some crocodile tears when the cops come and the blame gets put on the other driver, or road condition or some such. In the end, a guy is much more likely to get blamed for something that he didn't even do and was just reacting to a situation that was caused by a female. Also factor in that guys probably drive more total miles each year than females do, so the odds of getting into an accident, which will effect your insurance rate, will go up.
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shocking.
        AcidTonic
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        Since the article is dumb and the comments here are wasted.... I love your screen name. Made me laugh the first time I saw it.
      John
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tell me something I dont't know, like how come males have a higher rates than females. Total sexual discrimination
        Drakkon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @John
        A generation ago girls were less risky behind the wheel. Rates don't seem to have yet caught up with reality.
      pkchari
      • 2 Years Ago
      And lo, the heavens did let out a might cry unto all the worlds near all the stars in all the galaxies... and the voice from above did sound but one word -- "Duh!"
      Peter DePriest
      • 2 Years Ago
      So how about we use these statistics to lower insurance rates for us teenage guys!
        jonnybimmer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter DePriest
        Not gonna happen, but they might finally raise the rate for girls to be equal as guys. Misery loves company right?
        Polly Prissy Pants
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter DePriest
        Just because they're not on a cellphone doesn't mean they're not driving like a d-bag and causing accidents. An individuals perception of their own driving skill seems to be inversely proportional to their actual experience behind the wheel.
          WillieD
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Polly Prissy Pants
          How can you be a good driver and not be confident that you are such?
      You guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can this be field under the "not news" category?
      ghmason
      • 2 Years Ago
      Like, duh.
      Eidolon
      • 2 Years Ago
      "In addition, it was also discovered that women are ten times as likely as men to wear makeup."
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