BACKGROUND: The Centers for Disease Control reports that motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are the leading cause of injury and death among U.S. teenagers, and disproportionately affect males. Among preventable causes of MVCs involving teenage drivers, distracted driving continues to be a serious public health problem.
OBJECTIVES: To describe gender differences in teenage drivers' self-perceptions of safe driving behaviors, and self-reported risk behaviors and distractions while driving.
METHODS: We prospectively surveyed teenage drivers from four high schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Gender comparisons were made between self-reported perceptions and self-reported driving behaviors. Descriptive statistics and chi-squared testing were used in data analyses; significance was set at p < 0.05.
RESULTS: Seven hundred fifty-six high school teenage drivers completed surveys. Males (52%) and females (48%) were equally distributed; 32% of males reported that they were extremely safe drivers, whereas only 18% of females reported that they were extremely safe drivers (p < 0.001). Significantly more females (91%) compared to males (77%) reported always wearing their seatbelts (p < 0.001). Female drivers were more likely than male drivers to self-report that they always make their passengers wear a seat belt (76% vs. 63%, p < 0.001). A higher proportion of males reported using their cell phones while driving, compared to females (68% vs. 56%, p = 0.004), and 42% of males reported texting while driving, compared to 34% of females (p = 0.037).
CONCLUSION: Teenage male drivers perceive themselves to be safe drivers, but report engaging in more distracted driving and risky behaviors compared to females. These results suggest that there is an opportunity for gender-specific educational and injury prevention programs for teen drivers.
Barr, G. J., Kane, K. E., Barraco, R. D., Rayburg, T., Demers, L., Kraus, C. K., & ... Kane, B. G. (2015). Gender Differences in Perceptions and Self-reported Driving Behaviors Among Teenagers. The Journal Of Emergency Medicine, 48(3), 366-370.e3. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2014.09.055