The long-held belief that girls generally are better and safer drivers than boys may have just been wrecked.

A new study by the Allstate Foundation finds nearly half (48 percent) of teenage girls surveyed said they are likely to speed more than 10 mph over the speed limit compared to 36 percent of teenage boys. And 16 percent of girls described their driving as aggressive, nearly double the 9 percent who said so in a 2005 survey.

In addition:

–51 percent of girls say they are likely to use a cell phone to talk, text or email while driving compared to 38 percent of boys.

–84 percent of girls say they are likely to adjust music selection or volume while driving compared to 69 percent of boys.

The results were “a surprise to many people,” Meghann Dowd of the Allstate Foundation told the Wall Street Journal in a story published Wednesday.

The Journal reported that a spokesman for Allstate Insurance Co. said the company won’t use the survey to set insurance rates for teens but did note that rates for boys and girls are getting closer. Nevertheless, the spokesman told the Journal, girls remain a better risk than boys, based on the company’s claims data.

State Farm Insurance Co. told the Journal that its auto insurance premiums for boys are about 40 percent more than for girls. In 1985, State Farm said, the difference was 61 percent.

Here are other highlights from the survey by the Allstate Foundation, an independent charitable organization financed by Allstate Insurance Co.:

–More than 49 percent of teens report texting as a distraction, up from 31 percent in 2005.
–82 percent of teens report using cell phones while driving, while 23 percent admit to drinking and driving.
–More than 60 percent of teens worry about getting into an accident but still practice distracting or harmful actions while driving.
–13 percent of boys describe their driving as aggressive, down from 20 percent in 2005.
–Fewer boys (46 percent) report being in car crashes in 2009 compared to 58 percent in 2005.
–65 percent of teens are confident in their own driving skills.
–77 percent admit they have felt unsafe with another teen’s driving.
–82 percent want to be known as a safe/skilled driver.
–23 percent agree that most teens are good drivers.
–Fifty-nine percent of teens will speak up if they are scared or uncomfortable as a passenger.
–Girls are less likely to speak up than boys: 53 percent of girls reported they would say something about someone’s driving compared to 66 percent of boys.
–Fear of social rejection and being ignored top the list of reasons why teens don’t speak up when they feel unsafe as a passenger.
–More teens (22 percent) consider parents in the car more distracting than having their friends in the car (14 percent)
–92 percent report wearing their seatbelt and only 88 percent report their parents wear seatbelts
–84 percent of teens signal when changing lanes while 76 percent say their parents signal when changing lanes.
–More than 80 percent of teens rate parents as their No. 1 driving influence but are spending less behind-the-wheel time with their parents.

The survey was conducted by online interviews among 1,063 teens online nationally in May 2009 by TRU Research.

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