A new in-car video study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that teenage girls are twice as likely to use electronic devices behind the wheel as teenage boys. However, that doesn’t mean that teenage boys aren’t taking risks while driving. AAA says in a press release that “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.”
AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger says, “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. 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 study also finds that teenage girls were 10 percent more likely to eat, drink or reach for an object in the vehicle, while boys were twice as likely to turn around in their seats. Additionally, teenage boys were more likely to talk to people outside the vehicle. AAA recorded a total of 52 drivers, 38 of whom had just received their licenses and 14 of whom were siblings.
AAA Foundation Senior Communications Manager Carol Ronis told ABC News that the study is important because car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. Additionally, teens have roughly four times as many car crashes as adults. “We know that teen drivers are avid users of cell phones and other technologies,” says Ronis. “Continue the conversation with your child. Set a good example. They are always watching and modeling our behaviors.”
While Ronis advises drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, some cars offer safety tech that helps keep teen drivers safe. Examples include Ford’s MyKey system, which is available on nearly all Ford and Lincoln vehicles. MyKey allows parents to limit the car’s speed and stereo volume. The system can also keep the stereo off until the driver and passengers fasten their seatbelts. Additionally, Ford offers a feature that can block incoming text messages or automatically read them to the driver.
Educating teen drivers and improving guidelines is also critical. Consumer Reports writes, “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.”
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