Study: Girls becoming more aggressive behind the wheel


Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A new study shows a possible role reversal when it comes to bad driving by teenagers: boys getting better, but girls getting worse.

The survey of more than 1,000 teens by The Allstate Foundation found a shift in attitude connecting gender and dangerous driving.

According to the study, more girls are admitting aggression behind the wheel.

"It is somewhat surprising. Girls are becoming a little more aggressive as far as driving with speed," said The Allstate Foundation's Jeff Ormond. "They're adopting some of that traditional male behavior and it's just kind of closing the gender gap, so to speak."

In the survey, nearly half of girls (48%) admit they're likely to speed more than 10 mph over the limit, compared to 36% of boys.

16% of girls describe their driving as aggressive, up from 9% in 2005. Boys' aggressive driving dropped from 19% in 2005 to 13% in 2009.

Those numbers don't surprise driving school instructors or their students.

"No, I'm not surprised at all," laughed 17-year-old driving student Chelsea Dunkin.

It's more than a need for speed. The study also shows texting is the biggest distraction for teens while driving.

More girls admitted to driving distracted, using cell phones to talk or text, compared to teen boys.

Dunkin says she sees it all the time with her friends, even though Indiana law now bans teen texting behind the wheel.

"It's improved a lot [since the law took effect], but not gone away for sure," Dunkin said. "When you hear that vibrate or the ring, you're like, 'Who is it? What's it about?'"

"The girls definitely have those distractions," said Drive Zone instructor Jynx Jenkins. "A lot of young ladies are actually leaving us because of that particular factor."

Car crashes remain the number one killer of teens, for both boys and girls.

It's hoped this study makes young people think twice before engaging in risky behavior on the road.

Read more about the study, including tips for young drivers.