When asked by researchers about their cell phone use in the past month, 43 percent of adults ages 25-39 said they did “fairly often” or regularly while driving, compared with only 20 percent of teenagers.
Across all age groups, two out of three drivers said they used a cell phone while driving in the past month. Among drivers under the age of 60, teens said they used cell phones less than any other age group.
Since the study was self-reported, the teen reporting might be taken with a grain of salt, however. Adults may be more reliable than teens in admitting to distracted driving behaviors.
The AAA numbers were consistent with the findings of a Pew Research Center study done three years ago.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey looked at 2,325 licensed drivers.
While cheered by news that novice drivers were among the less likely to use electronic devices, “It is discouraging that cell phone usage picks up when drivers gain more experience,” said Peter Kissinger, head of the AAA safety group.
Texting, considered by far the most dangerous distracted driving behavior, was reported far less frequently. Again, teens ranked behind the 19-24 and 25-39 age groups in use, with 7 percent saying they text messaged while driving fairly often/regularly while behind the wheel.
The finding contradicts the widely held belief that texting & driving is primarily a problem with teens.
The 25-29 age group was again the largest user of the technology, with 45 percent saying they’d sent texts or email within the month. For the 19-24 group, the figure was 42 percent.
Overall, about a quarter of motorists said they had sent a text or email message in the past month.
Of the oldest drivers (75 years old and up), about a third had used a cell phone while driving in the month, but only 1 percent reported sending a text or email.
Police say texting and driving is more dangerous for teens, who have far less experience behind the wheel than adults. At any age, texting and operating a motor vehicle has been found to dramatically increase the chances of an accident.
A 2010 electronic distracted driving study by the Pew Research Center found that more than a quarter of U.S. adults (27 percent) admitted to texting while behind the wheel. Teens posted almost identical numbers (26 percent).
The Pew study said 61 percent of adults said they used a mobile phone while driving, vs. 43 percent of teenagers (ages 16, 17).
- Read more distracted driving research.