A new study of young drivers sheds light on their distracted driving tendencies and the extent to which those habits can lead to incidents on the road..
Online PR News – 29-March-2012 – Austin, Texas – A new study of young drivers from the the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety quantifies that group's distracted driving tendencies and puts a spotlight on the extent to which those habits can lead to collisions, according to Online Auto Insurance.
Practically all auto insurance companies charge teens more because of their high crash rate and proclivity for taking more risks behind the wheel, but the new AAA report is the first to analyze data from thousands of clips taken on in-car cameras while they were driving.
Among the major findings in the report, which summarized findings for 52 teens in the study:
--Teen girls were more than twice as likely as boys to use an electronic device while behind the wheel.
--Girls were, overall, 10 percent more likely than boys to be engaged in other distracted habits, including 50 percent more likely to reach for an object and almost 25 percent more likely to eat or drink while driving. But some distractive tendencies were more common for teen boys, who were about twice as likely as girls to turn around in their seats to talk to passengers and communicate with others outside the vehicle.
--The presence of family in the car and being in conditions requiring more attention such as rain cut down on distracted driving.
--Use of electronic devices made teen drivers more than three times more likely to take their eyes off the road.
Insurance companies have been launching campaigns for years to combat distracted driving, and the results of this study come as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is gearing up for National Distracted Driving Prevention Month in April. The NHTSA reports that distracted driving contributed to an estimated 5,400 deaths and 448,000 injuries in 2009.
"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," AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger said in a statement.
There are ways parents can curtail their teens’ dangerous habits on the roadway, like limiting loud talking and horseplay in the car. Serious incidents were six times more likely to occur when there was loud conversation in the vehicle, according to the study, which also found that horseplay “went hand in hand with serious incidents and high G-forces” that included sudden acceleration, deceleration and hard left or right turns. “High G-force events” were more associated with distracted behaviors like loud talking and horseplay than with usage of electronic devices.
To promote safe driving, parents also might want to limit the number of friends in their teens’ cars, since loud conversations were seen in 12.2 percent of the recorded clips when passengers were present, and horseplay was seen 6.3 percent of the time. The frequency of both horseplay and loud conversation increased when passengers were present during weekends and nighttime, according to the study, which reported that such times were “when much of teen driving may be ‘recreational.’”
Recordings of motorists on weekend nights with one or more teenaged peers, without adults or siblings present, captured loud conversation in about 1 out of every 5 clips, while horseplay was captured in about 1 out of every 10 clips.
Or better yet, parents might want to be in the car themselves because the report found that “carrying parents—and to a lesser degree siblings—was associated with a substantially lower likelihood of horseplay and loud conversation.”
If teen drivers don't give in to distractions behind the wheel, it could result not only in safer driving but also in better insurance premiums down the road.
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