AAA Survey: Adult Drivers Use the Phone More Than Teen Drivers

by | Jan 17, 2014 | Car Accident, Distracted Driving

Adults are more likely to engage in distracting activities such as texting than novice drivers, according to a survey by the American Automobile Association.

Two-thirds of drivers who completed the AAA survey indicated that they had used a cellphone while driving in the past month. But teenage drivers reported using cellphones a lot less frequently than adult drivers.

While 20% of drivers ages 16-18 admitted to using the phone fairly often behind the wheel, 43% of adults ages 25-39 reported regularly using a cellphone while driving.

Although the survey is based on self-reported behaviors and thus might not be as reliable as data gathered using more objective methods, it suggests that young people, at least when they are just starting to drive, are more willing to hang up and drive than their older counterparts.

Older drivers also are less likely to use cellphones. Only 15% of drivers ages 60-74 reported regular cellphone use behind the wheel, and 7% of drivers ages 75 and older confessed to using the phone while driving on a routine basis.

Overall, the survey respondents were unlikely to text and drive regularly. A little more than a fourth of drivers said they texted or emailed on the road each month, and 6% reported that they texted or emailed frequently while operating a vehicle.

Drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to text and drive often — a total of 11% of those surveyed from that age group. Among drivers ages 25-39, nearly half (45%) admitted that they sent an email or text message from behind the wheel during the previous month.

Although it is not clear why adult drivers are more likely to use cellphones on the road, the recent push to increase awareness of distracted-driving dangers may be having the desired effect among teenagers. However, as drivers gain more confidence in their driving abilities, it appears that they minimize the dangers of multitasking. This is surprising, because 89% of survey respondents said they thought distracted driving was a significant traffic safety concern, and 96% said texting and driving are a serious threat on the road.

Distracted driving accidents are a big concern for Oklahoma residents. The tragic accident and slow recovery of Oklahoma City police officer and UFC competitor Matt Grice is a statewide story that has shed light on the devastating impact of distracted driving wrecks.

Grice was seriously injured in September 2013 when a driver who reportedly was distracted rear-ended him at a traffic light. The other driver was reported to have been going nearly 65 mph.

Although Grice is recovering and plans to resume work, he sustained a traumatic brain injury in the accident and was in a coma for a month afterward. The seriousness of his injuries are a stark reminder of how a few seconds of distracted driving can change, or end, lives.