Electronic Devices a Leading Distraction for Teen Drivers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When it comes to teenagers behind the wheel, the use of electronic devices — to text or to talk on a hands-free phone — is the No. 1 distracted-driving behavior, according to the findings of a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In the final phase of a three-part study that used data recorders in the cars of 50 North Carolina families with a novice teenage driver, researchers examined six months of video clips for each family.

A total of 52 drivers were recorded — 38 of whom had just received their licenses, and 14 teen siblings. In nearly 8,000 clips, electronic devices were used nearly 7 percent of the time, accounting for more than any other distracted-driving behavior,  such as adjusting controls, eating and drinking or turning around.

And girls were the worst offenders. In video clips, they used electronic devices 7.9 percent of the time, while boys clocked in at 4 percent. The time of day or day of week did not affect distracted-driving behavior.

The study also found that teenage drivers were three times more likely to take their eyes off the road when using these devices.

Carol Ronis, the foundation’s senior communications manager, said the study was important because car crashes remained the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Teen car crashes are roughly four times higher than they are for adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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