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Novice teenage driver cell phone use prevalence

In: Proceedings of the 7th International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training, and Vehicle Design. (2013), p. 9-15.

Authors: Johnathon Ehsani, Ashley Brooks-Russell, Kaigang Li, Jessamyn Perlus, Anuj Pradhan, Bruce G. Simons-Morton

Novice teenage drivers have high crash rates due to inexperience; therefore, cell phone-related secondary task engagement (distracted driving) is likely to aggravate crash risk for this population. A previous study of teenage distracted driving behavior, found that 34% of 16-17- year-olds had texted, and 52% reported talking on a cell phone while driving (Madden & Lenhart, 2009). In the current study, data from the NEXT Generation Health Study were analyzed to estimate the prevalence of cell phone-related distracted driving in a nationally representative sample of U.S. eleventh grade students, the age when most teenagers are first eligible to receive a license to drive independently. Using the subsample of teenagers that reported having a license that allowed independent, driving (n = 881), the prevalence of cell phone-related distracted driving was estimated. Nationwide, four out of five (80.0%) teenage drivers reported making or receiving a call, and 72.0% reported sending or receiving a text message at least one day in the past 30 days. In addition, teenagers reported talking on 32.6% and texting on 40.3% of the days they drove. Access to a vehicle, the number of miles teenagers drove each day (the more driving the more phone use), and race/ethnicity (Asians had lower cell phone use than Whites, Hispanics, or African-Americans), were significantly associated with cell phone-related distracted driving. These findings indicate a higher prevalence of teenage cell phone use while driving than previous studies. More research is needed to understand predictors, safety outcomes, and prevention approaches for teenage distracted driving.