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North Carolina research: girl drivers talk, text twice as much

Teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boys to talk on their cellphones or send or receive text messages, new research from AAA and the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center shows.

Overall, teenage girls are 10 percent more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors than their male counterparts. That puts them more at risk for car accidents that can leave them, or innocent motorists, injured or dead.

The AAA Foundation, along with its research partners at UNC, looked at 7,858 video clips of recordings made of unsupervised teenage drivers.

Advocates of driver cellphone bans said the report shows a need for a national ban on texting and talking on phones while behind the wheel. They would also like to see a ban on all use of electronic devices by teen drivers.

"Teens really need to be focused on driving and only driving," a AAA spokesperson said.

Some of the other results from the study include:

  • The more teens that are in a car, the more likely it is that conditions inside the vehicle will get rowdy and lead to a crash.
  • The most distracting things a teen driver can have in the car: cellphones and other electronic gadgets and toys. Those objects are three times more likely to get teens to take their eyes off of the road as other distractions.
  • Other, non-electronic distractions that can cause people to look away from traffic: eating, drinking, adjusting car controls, grooming.
  • Older teens are more likely to engage in reckless driving behavior than younger teens, suggesting that older teens are more comfortable driving, but not yet more responsible in their behavior.

One of several good points worth taking away from the study: parents are role models for their children, even when they drive.

If parents exhibit sound driving habits, their kids are more likely to drive safely, too.

Source: Daily Herald: "Girls twice as likely to talk, text while driving," March 27, 2012

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