More Adults Than Teens Use Phones While Driving, Study Shows | Edmunds

More Adults Than Teens Use Phones While Driving, Study Shows


Just the Facts:
  • Adults use their phones while driving more often than teens, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
  • The study found that 82 percent of adult drivers aged 25-39 admitted to using their phones while driving, compared to 58 percent of those 16-18 years old.
  • Almost nine out of 10 motorists surveyed expressed the opinion that distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was three years ago.

WASHINGTON — Adults use their phones while driving more often than high school-aged teens, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

This revelation comes from the Foundation's 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index, which is based on a survey of more than 2,000 licensed motorists who reported driving in the past 30 days.

The study found that 82 percent of adult drivers ages 25-39 admitted to using their phones while driving. Those in the 19-24 and 40-59 age groups tied at 72 percent. But of the youngest group, the 16-18-year-olds, only 58 percent say they use their phones while 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, in a statement. "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."

The trend continues when the same drivers are asked specifically about sending text messages. Of the 25-39 age group, 45 percent say they've texted while driving, but only 31 percent of the 16-18-year-olds admit to doing so.

Not surprisingly, older drivers tend to use the phone less often in the car. The study found that only 51 percent of those aged 60-74 admitted to using their phones while driving, and among those 75 and older, the number shrinks to 31 percent.

Even fewer of the older drivers report texting behind the wheel, only 7 percent of those aged 60-74, and just 1 percent of those over 75.

One thing all age groups have in common, though, is the belief that using phones while driving is a dangerous practice — at least for other people. The study found that 89 percent of those surveyed believe that other drivers talking on a cell phone while driving is a serious threat to their personal safety, and 96 percent say that others texting behind the wheel is a serious threat.

Almost nine out of 10 (88 percent) motorists surveyed expressed the opinion that distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was three years ago.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every 10 fatal crashes involves distracted driving, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, a number many experts feel is considerably underestimated.

Edmunds says: The findings of this study belie the stereotypical image of teens being glued to their phones while driving.

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