TMR Team | Dec 19, 2012

Young motorists are not getting the message on mobile phone distraction, the latest AAMI Young Driver Index study has found.

The research suggests that while drivers on both sides of the gender divide are struggling to ignore their phones, young female drivers are the worst offenders.

Surveying over 3700 motorists, the study found that young females are more likely than males to SMS, speak on their phone without hands-free, or interact with their satnav while driving.

Of the respondents aged 18 and above, 56 percent of young females admitted to either sending or receiving text messages while driving, compared to a still-alarming 46 percent of young males.

Some 49 percent of young females surveyed admitted to answering their phone while driving, compared with 38 percent of young males.

Interaction with satnav systems was more balanced across the genders, with 39 percent of young females admitting to doing so, compared with 37 percent of males.

When it came to internet or email use however, 24 percent of young males outweighed 22 percent of their female counterparts.

According to the report, young females were more impatient and more likely to have had an accident in the past five years than any other age or gender demographic.

Some 35 percent of young females had been involved in a collision in that time, compared with 33 percent of young drivers overall.

Comparatively, 27 percent of drivers of both genders aged 25-49 had been involved in a collision in the past five years, while drivers over 50 recorded the lowest crash rate at 20 percent.

Driver patience is a purely subjective measure, but 37 percent of young female respondents considered themselves impatient when behind the wheel, compared with 32 percent of young males.

AAMI Spokesperson Reuben Aitchison said the results of the survey were surprising.

“We tend to think of this group as more mature than their male counterparts, but clearly there are some poor choices being made by young women behind the wheel," Aitchison said.

Overall driver distraction appears to be an increasing issue, but young driver attitudes toward drink-driving seem to be slowly improving.

For example, AAMI’s research suggests that the rate of young drivers who knowingly drive over the legal blood-alcohol limit has fallen from 21 percent to 15 percent in the last 10 years, with males in particular dropping from 29 to 16 percent.

“We see the results of tens of thousands of crashes each year involving young people, ranging from minor dings and scratches through to tragic fatal crashes”, Aitchison summarised.

“Our research shows that many of these accidents could have been avoided if young people took a bit of extra time to think about whether those extra few kilometres per hour, that text message or that phone call were really worth the risk.”