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AAA: Adults Drive Distracted More Than Teens

Ordinarily, we think of wisdom as being the product of experience.  A recent study of our nation’s driving habits, however, seems to indicate otherwise.

Despite the popularly held belief that young drivers are more likely to send and receive text messages while driving, a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that adults–not newly licensed teenagers–are more likely to engage in distracted driving.  According to the study, 82% of adults between the ages of 25 and 39 admit to using their cell phones while behind the wheel, with 43% classifying their use as “regular.”  In comparison, 58% of 16-18 year olds and 72% of 19-24 year olds admit to using their phones while driving, with an average of less than 25% doing so “regularly.”

The scary revelations do not stop there.  AAA’s study also found that adults are more likely to engage in distractions far more dangerous than quickly checking the time or glancing at a GPS application.  According to AAA, 45% of 25-39 year olds have sent and received text messages/emails while behind the wheel, with approximately 10% doing so “regularly.”  For younger drivers, the numbers are slightly lower, but still high enough to warrant concern.

As with any study that relies on subjects to self-report, these statistics should certainly be taken with a grain of salt.  In all likelihood, the actual numbers are much higher than the study shows, as respondents may not have been entirely forthcoming when discussing their distracted driving habits.  That being said, the mere fact that these numbers are as high as they are is indicative of a serious problem.

Despite nearly nine out of ten motorists acknowledging that distracted driving is a bigger problem now than three years ago, a significant portion of the population engages in the very same activity it condemns–a fact that AAA calls “discouraging.”

“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,” noted Peter Kissinger, a high-ranking executive with AAA’s 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.”

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