A new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that teenage girls are twice as likely to use smartphones while driving as teenage boys, and are 10 percent more likely overall to engage in distracted driving. The study was conducted by using a camera to record the driving habits of 50 families in North Carolina with new drivers as the teen drivers progressed from supervised to unsupervised driving. That sample size and selection probably doesn’t hold much experimental power, so take from this study what you will.
Unsurprisingly, electronic device use was found to be the most common cause of distracted driving, followed by grooming, eating, drinking, reaching for something in the car, in-car conversation, and “horseplay.” Instances of distracted driving were found in 15 percent of the clips recorded during the length of the study.
Teenage girls were 10 percent more likely overall to be distracted while driving. They were twice as likely to be found using smartphones, 50 percent more likely to be reaching for something in the car, and 25 percent more likely to be found eating or drinking. Teenage boys, on the other hand, were found to be more likely to turn around in their seats to engage in conversation and talk with people outside of the car.
Also unsurprisingly, instances of distracted driving fell when there was an adult in the car, while instances of loud conversation and horseplay rose along with the number of teenagers in the car. Drivers engaging in loud conversation were six times more likely to get into an accident or need to make emergency maneuvers, while those engaging in horseplay were twice as much at risk.
It’s not the most scientific study, but it does serve as another valid reminder to all that kids – everyone, for that matter – need to keep their eyes on the road while driving.