Pew Internet and American Life Project: Teens and distracted driving


December 11, 2009

By the very nature of their youth, teen drivers have little experience on the road. They also have a great comfort with and reliance on cell phones and other electronic devices, which have become a serious concern as a cause of distracted driving.

A 2009 paper by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Teens and Distracted Driving,” focuses on the rate of cell phone use while driving among American teenagers. The paper was based on a survey of youth aged 12 to 18 in four U.S. cities that was conducted over the summer of 2009.

The study’s key findings include:

  • 75% of all American teens now own a cell phone and 66% use their phones to send or receive text messages. Older teens are more likely to have cell phones and use text messages.
  • Of all American teen ages 16 to 17, 26% have texted while driving and 43% have talked on a cell phone while driving.
  • Teens who text are more likely than those who don’t to be a passenger of a distracted driver; 40% of all teens in the sample have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone. Older teens report a higher rate of this likelihood.
  • In addition to texting, other sources of driver distraction are the usage of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and other smartphone applications.

Tags: cars, safety, technology, mobile tech


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Citation: Madden, Mary; et al. "Teens and Distracted Driving," Pew Internet , November, 2009,