Teen girls are more likely to be using a cell phone or other electronic device while they're driving than their male counterparts.
That's the conclusion of a new study from the California State Automobile Association.
Researchers at the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety used in-car video footage to study distracted driving among teens.
They found teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boys to be calling, texting or Internet surfing while they are driving.
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The AAA researchers also found the presence of other passengers as well as the time of day to be factors in crashes involving teen drivers.
The research also revealed teen girls are 10 percent more likely to be engaged in other distracting behaviors, such as reaching for an object or eating.
However, boys were found to be more likely to talk to someone outside their vehicle or to turn around and chat with passengers.
“Drivers are three times as likely to take their eyes off the road when using electronic devices. They were also two and a half times more likely to look away from the road when engaged in other behaviors.” says Cynthia Harris, spokeswoman for CSAA. “A second may not seem like much, but at 65 miles per hour a car travels the length of a basketball court in a single second. That extra second can mean the difference between life and death.”
AAA offers the following tips for parents who have teen drivers:
- Practice, practice, practice. Once teens have their actual license, continue to ensure that basic skills are mastered and to introduce varied driving conditions such as snow and heavy traffic rural roads with an experienced driver in the passenger seat.
- Keep passengers out. Teen drivers’ crash risks multiply with teenage passengers in the vehicle. Set limits and enforce them consistently.
- Limit night driving. Reduced visibility makes night driving riskier for drivers of all ages. For inexperienced teens it’s even harder. Allow new teen drivers to drive at night only if it’s truly necessary for them to practice driving in the dark with a parent.
- Keep setting rules. Establish and enforce rules above and beyond state laws. In addition to night and passenger limits, set rules for inclement weather, highways, cities, or other driving conditions in which a teen has not gained enough experience. Find a parent-teen agreement on TeenDriving.aaa.com that can help.
Police say distracted drivers come in all ages and are both male and female. They note that the California Vehicle Code prohibits texting and other behavior while a car is being operated. That includes a vehicle that is stopped at a red light or even one that is parked while the engine is still running.