A common belief is that teens use cell phones while driving far more than adults. But new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows a somewhat different picture. Its annual Traffic Safety Survey revealed that among all drivers, adults age 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel!
The survey found that while 20 percent of teen drivers admitted to using a cell phone fairly often or regularly while driving, adults ages 25-39 admitted to doing so 43 percent of the time. Far less surprising was the finding that motorists age 60+ were the least likely to report using a phone behind the wheel.
“It’s noteworthy that the young novice drivers are using their phones while driving less than older drivers since, given their inexperience, they are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “At the same time, it is discouraging that cell phone usage picks up when drivers gain more experience, as using a phone can lead to dangerous distractions behind the wheel.”
These different usage rates exist despite almost 90 percent and 96 percent of drivers believing that talking on a cell phone and texting while driving is a serious threat to their personal safety, respectively.
Regardless of the specific findings, this research should not affect how instructors work with new drivers to prevent them from using cell phones while driving. It is still a very risky activity, and instructors should bring to bear all possible resources to prevent distracted driving.
Additionally, this research may represent an opportunity to influence adult drivers’ behaviors via their children. Many parents claim (with some exasperation!) that their new teen drivers are actually a good influence on them, serving to remind them about the risks involved in some habits they may have picked up during years of driving.