AAA study shows that teenage girls are more distracted than boys when driving

Teenage girls are twice as likely as boys to use cell phones and other electronics behind the wheel, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study used in-car video footage to capture various driver distractions. No surprise: Talking and texting was the leading cause of distraction observed, as seen in seven percent of the video clips.

The naturalistic study gathered information from 50 families in North Carolina with a novice driver. Researchers looked at distracted behaviors and conditions of teens during maneuvers such as swerving, hard braking, or rapid acceleration.

Other common distractions such as adjusting controls, grooming, and eating and drinking were observed in 15 percent of the clips and were more prevalent behavior for girls. The use of electronic equipment was more common in older teens, which could be attributed to a higher degree of comfort behind the wheel and more years of driving.

Other gender differences show that females were 50 percent more likely to reach for an object in the car and 25 percent more likely to eat or drink. However, males twiceas likely to turn around in their seats and more likely to talk with people outside of the car.

Distractions decreased significantly when adults were in the car, but when multiple teens were present, there were more loud conversations and horseplay. AAA noted that this was concerning since those distractions have shown to increase the likelihood of a crash.

These types of distractions are important to note because they contribute to car crashes as the leading cause of death for teenagers. Sadly, early estimates for 2011 shows that deaths for that age group have increased.

Further education on the issue of distraction as well as stricter rules from parents and stronger state graduated licensing programs are some ways to help reduce these teen deaths. For more on distracted driving, see our special section.

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