Electronic Devices Serve as Most Common Teen Driver Distraction

HB 2348 aims to strengthen Arizona's GDL law, mitigate risk

Phoenix, Ariz., March 26, 2012. Electronic devices are the most common distracted driving activity for new teen drivers, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study. HB 2348 aims to address this alarming trend in Arizona by prohibiting the use of wireless communication devices during a teen driver’s most dangerous learning period.

“While a variety of distractions were observed in this study, the most common—the use of electronic devices—poses the gravest danger to teen drivers and all road users,” said Linda Gorman, communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. “HB 2348 would eliminate this distraction and help teens create safer driving habits during this critical learning stage.”

Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers is the first study using in-car video footage to specifically focus on teen distracted driving. After reviewing more than 7,858 clips of unsupervised teen drivers during the first six months of driving, researchers at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center uncovered the following:

  • The leading cause of distraction for all teens was the use of electronic devices.

  • Nearly twice as many teens were observed or suspected of operating an electronic device (e.g., texting) than were seen talking on a hand-held phone.

  • Gender played a role in some of the distractions observed. Females were nearly twice as likely as males to use an electronic device while driving.

  • Drivers were three times as likely to take their eyes off the road when using electronic devices.

  • On average, teen drivers using electronic devices took their eyes off the road for a full second longer than drivers not using such a device. To put this in perspective, at 65 mph, a vehicle travels the length of a basketball court in a single second.

“With added research that underscores the common use and subsequent dangers of electronic devices behind the wheel, AAA urges Arizona lawmakers to make teen driver safety a priority and consider this life-saving legislation,” Gorman said.

Sponsored by Senator John McComish (R), HB 2348 would prohibit teens from using wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle during the permit and first six months of the GDL phases, except for in emergency situations. The bill is currently awaiting consideration from the Senate Committee of the Whole. Arizonans can monitor the progress and take action on this bill, as well as other transportation related issues, by visiting AAA’s legislative action center.

For more information on the Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers study, visit AAAFoundation.org.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.