86 Percent of Teens Admit to Driving While Distracted, According to AAA and Seventeen Magazine Survey

Seventeen, AAA and The Department of Transportation team up in a “Two-Second Turnoff Day” to stop texting while driving

Teen drivers often understand that shooting a quick text message, playing with their radio, or eating while driving is dangerous. However, the overwhelming majority of teen drivers do these things anyway, according to a recent survey by AAA and Seventeen magazine. Almost nine in 10 teenage drivers (86 percent) have driven while distracted, even though 84 percent of teen drivers know it′s dangerous. Featured in the September issue of Seventeen, the results are based on a survey conducted in May of nearly 2,000 male and female teen drivers ages 16 to 19. Seventeen and AAA set out to discover what risky behaviors teen drivers are engaging in behind the wheel, and how they justify this dangerous behavior.

Of those surveyed, 73 percent have adjusted their radio/CD/MP3 player, 61 percent have eaten food, and 60 percent have talked on a cell phone while driving. The reasons teen drivers think it′s okay to engage in these distractions are varied: 41 percent think their action will only take a split second; 35 percent don′t think they′ll get hurt; 34 percent said they′re used to multitasking; and 32 percent don′t think that anything bad will happen to them.

“It′s great that so many teens are able to identify the bad driving habits that will put them and their friends in danger. But the bigger challenge we face now is to give them the tools they need to stop driving while distracted,” says Ann Shoket, editor in chief of Seventeen magazine. “It′s our responsibility to keep our 13 million readers out of harm′s way.”

Even as passengers, teen drivers worry about distracted driving, with nearly four out of 10 (38 percent) saying they have been afraid they were going to get hurt because they were the passenger of a distracted driver. More than one-third of teen drivers (36 percent) believe they have been involved in a near-crash because of their own or someone else′s distracted driving.

“Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teen drivers and knowing that a whopping majority of teens admit to driving distracted is very scary,” says Marie Dodds, AAA Oregon/Idaho Director of Government and Public Affairs. “We need to work to educate teenagers that they, like all drivers, need to remain focused at all times behind the wheel. AAA is pleased to partner with Seventeen to remind teens not to drive under these dangerous conditions.”

Texting while driving is among the riskiest of common driving distractions. Teen drivers are still developing safe driving skills and should limit unnecessary risks, according to AAA. Nonetheless, the survey revealed that teen drivers who text while driving sent, on average, 23 text messages while driving in the past month. Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver and more than a half million were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to AAA, taking your eyes off of the road for two seconds doubles your risk of getting into a crash. On September 17th, Seventeen, AAA and the Department of Transportation are asking everyone to save a life and participate in the Seventeen Two-Second Turnoff Day by taking two seconds to turn off their cell phone before driving. Instead of spending two seconds looking away from the road while driving distracted, use those two seconds to turn off your phone before you get behind the wheel.

Seventeen (www.seventeen.com) is the best-selling monthly teen magazine, reaching more than 13 million readers every month.Seventeen is published by Hearst Magaz

ines.