brad on phone (with kim)A study released on Monday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the number one distraction among teen drivers is the use of electronic devices, and that teenage girls are twice as likely as their male counterparts to use cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. The study, “Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers,” was conducted by University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center researchers and is the first to use in-car video recordings to study teen distracted driving, as David Morgan reports for

Morgan writes:

Talking on the phone or texting while driving was the most common behavior that distracted young drivers, more so than adjusting controls, grooming, eating or drinking, or engaging in horseplay or loud conversations with passengers.

The findings are notable given that distracted driving behaviors are believed to contribute to traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities – and traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for young Americans.

AAA Foundation president and CEO Peter Kissinger said, “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 involved identifying the prevalence and consequences of many behaviors that distract drivers during high g-force maneuvers such as swerving, hard braking, or rapid acceleration, according to an AAA Foundation press release (link is PDF).

The foundation says that gender played a role in some of the distractions that researchers observed:

[Females] 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.”

Among the comments posted to the article, “djseavy” writes: “It’s amazing how people refuse to see the truth. All one needs to do is drive down the road and have the passenger take pictures. Over half the drivers (of all ages by the way) are yacking in the phone or doing something other than paying attention to the road.”

And “officerjoe” writes:

Several years ago the NYC taxi and Limo commission wanted to install equipment in cabs that prevented the driver from transmitting with electronic device while the motor was on in his vehicle.Installation of this equipment should be required in all new vehicles for everyone.End of problem.

Image by chris.corwin (Chris Corwin), used under its Creative Commons license.