Distracted Driving Seems To Be Playing A Larger Than Thought Factor In Teen Car Accidents With Nearly 60 Percent Of Crashes Due To Distracted Teenagers
A new study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that nearly 6 out of 10 moderate to severe traffic crashes involving teen drivers were the result of distracted driving. Distracted driving is caused by other actions at the wheel, such as turning the radio dial, talking on a cell phone, or texting while driving. This new information reveals that distracting driving incidences are much higher than the previously-estimated statistics of only 14 percent based on police reports.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed nearly 1,700 videos capturing the actions of teen drivers right before a crash. Analysts rarely have access to crash videos, which makes the data found by this study compelling and concerning. AAA examined video data from nearly 7,000 cameras mounted in vehicles that showed the driver and the view out of the vehicle windshield. The videos came from a company called Lytx Inc., which is a company that offers video coaching programs to help drivers improve their driving behavior and reduce collisions. Of the nearly 7,000 videos examined, nearly 1,700 resulted in a hard brake incident or traffic crash.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that in 58 percent of crashes, distracted driving was a major contributor. The videos revealed that the most common distractions were taking with other passengers, using a cell phone, looking at messages on a phone, and texting. Other distractions, such as drivers looking at something in the vehicle or looking away from the road were also contributing factors to the crashes. 10 percent of the crashes were caused by drivers looking at something in the vehicle, 9 percent were caused by the driver looking away from the road outside the vehicle, 8 percent of crashes were caused by singing or dancing in the vehicle, 6 percent were caused by personal grooming, and 6 percent were caused by drivers reaching for an object.
Several videos released by the AAA show teen drivers engaging in highly risky behavior while behind the wheel. In one video, a teenage boy tries to navigate a turn on a wet road while talking on his phone. The boy crossed a lane of traffic and ran off the road stopping just before some railroad tracks.
Another video shows a teen driving looking at his cell phone while driving. When he was not looking at the road, the vehicle crossed the opposite lane of traffic, left the road, and hit a mailbox.
In a third video, a teen girl narrowly avoided crashing into the back of slowed traffic in front of her. She was distracted by conversation with another teen in the vehicle with her.
Previous distracted driving statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 14 percent of teen vehicle accidents were caused by distracted driving. According to the CEO and President of AAA, these videos show, “indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.” Previous research has shown that teen drivers are more likely to be distracted with others in the car, while older drivers are less likely to be distracted with others in the car.
According to the data analyzed by AAA, teen drivers had their eyes off the road for about 4.1 seconds before any distracted driving-related crash. Teen drivers using a cell phone failed to react in half of all crashes, meaning the teens made no effort to avoid the crash in these cases. AAA and other traffic safety groups recommend that lawmakers continue to place additional restrictions on teen drivers to protect their safety. AAA also recommends parents and caregivers warn teens about the risks of distracted driving. In 2013, teen drivers had the highest crash rate of any age group in the United States. Teen between age 16 and 19 had nearly 1 million accidents. This caused nearly 400,000 injuries and nearly 3,000 deaths nationwide.
Ohio already has strict driving laws for teens. Teens under the age of 17 are not allowed to drive with more than one non-family passenger unless a parent or guardian is present. Teen drivers under age 19 are not allowed to drive between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM unless for an emergency, school, or employment. [http://www.bmv.ohio.gov/faq_teen_driving.stm, March 2015]