Girls in the United States are more likely than boys to text behind the wheel, despite widespread youth awareness of the perils of distracted driving, a nationwide survey suggests.
Fully two-thirds of the 2,012 young drivers aged 15 to 21 who took part in the online survey rated themselves to be "very safe" drivers, with almost every one else describing themselves as somewhat safe.
But a large number acknowledged that they engaged in distracted driving anyway -- from changing music on the car stereo, to eating and drinking non-alcoholic beverages.
Thirty-eight percent of girls said they had read texts while driving, and 27 percent said they had written text message behind the wheel as well. For boys, the figures were 17 percent and 11 percent respectively.
"We need to reinforce the idea that it takes only one time -- one sip of coffee, one change of the radio station, one glimpse at the cellphone -- to cause or be involved in a crash," said Angela Patterson, who oversees a teen driving safety program for tire maker Bridgestone, which funded the survey.
Prince Market Research gave the survey an overall margin of error of 2.2 percent. It said it considered a phone survey, but thought otherwise for fear that some respondents might be driving when contacted by its pollsters.
This month has been declared National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the federal Department of Transportation, with West Virginia becoming the 10th of the 50 states to outlaw both texting and handheld cellphone use on the road.