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updated: 3/27/2012 5:48 AM

Girls twice as likely to talk, text while driving

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  • Female teen drivers use the phone more frequently than males, a AAA study shows.

      Female teen drivers use the phone more frequently than males, a AAA study shows.
    Daily Herald photo illustration by Bill Zars/bzars

 
 

"Whoa, don't hit me, car," the teenage driver says as she cruises through a parking lot, talking to a passenger with music blaring.

"I probably should have waited because it's the nice thing to do, but I'm not a nice person," she adds, laughing.

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But teen distracted driving is no LOL matter, especially for girls, new research indicates.

AAA data released Monday based on in-car cameras -- including the real recorded "don't hit me, car" scenario -- shows that overall, teenage females are 10 percent more likely to engage in distracted behavior while driving than males. And girls are twice as inclined to talk on cellphones or text while behind the wheel as boys, statistics indicate.

The AAA Foundation along with the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center looked at 7,858 clips from six months of recordings of unsupervised teen drivers. This latest report points to the need for uniform laws across the states banning texting and driving as well as prohibiting teenage drivers from using electronic devices, safety advocates said.

"Teens really need to be focused on driving and only driving," AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher said.

Other findings included:

• More teens in a car can lead to rowdiness and an increased risk of a crash.

• The greatest distractions for adolescents were cellphones and other electronic devices, which are three times as likely to cause drivers to take their eyes off the road.

• Other safety concerns came from eating or drinking, grooming and adjusting controls.

• Older teenage drivers were more likely to engage in careless behavior, suggesting that they felt more at ease driving than those who had just turned 16.

• Males driving were more likely than girls to turn around in their seats and talk to people outside the car.

"The gender differences with regard to distraction observed in this study raise some points that we'll want to investigate in future projects," AAA Foundation CEO Peter Kissinger said in a statement.

Teenagers are among the most at-risk drivers in the country, according to the U.S. government, and vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for adolescents. While Illinois has a tough graduated driver's license law, not all states do.

But one of the greatest accident-prevention measures can come from parents, who should take a good look in the mirror as their child is learning to drive, experts advised.

"Parents of teenagers need to serve as good role models," Mosher said.

For more information on the AAA report, visit aaafoundation.org.

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