OKLA. CITY —
High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, said young novice drivers, who are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes, are using their phones while driving less than older drivers.
“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,” Kissinger said.
Edmond resident Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma, said using a phone while driving may seem safe, but it roughly quadruples the risk of being in a crash according to previous research.
“None of us is immune from the dangers of distracted driving,” Mai said. “The best advice is to hang up and drive.”
Two out of three drivers reported using a cell while driving within the past month. Forty-three percent of adults ages 25-39 reported doing so fairly often or regularly while driving, compared to only 20 percent of teens. Motorists age 60 and up were the least likely to report using a phone.
AAA reports more than two out of three drivers use cell phones despite crash risk. One out of every 10 fatal crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Experts agree the numbers are likely underestimated.
AAA says previous research showed hands-free cell phones offer no significant safety benefits over handheld phones — hands-free is not risk-free.
The auto club released the data on the eve of Oklahoma’s next legislative session, which begins Feb. 3. In recent sessions, AAA has sought a statewide texting while driving ban here.
In May, Hawaii became the 40th state to ban texting for all drivers, according to AAA. At the time, the nine states that had not done so were Arizona, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina and Texas.
AAA will continue seeking a texting while driving ban in Oklahoma, Mai said.
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