Teen Distracted Driving “Even Worse” than AAA Thought
Cell Phone Use, Passengers Leading Causes of Distracted Driving
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its findings on teen driving behaviors, and the results are grim. Based on the most comprehensive research ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers, the foundation discovered that distracted driving is worse than predicted among young drivers.
According to the AAA Foundation, the most common forms of driver distraction leading up to a crash included interacting with passengers, found in 15 percent of incidents, and cell phone use, found in 12 percent of incidents. Looking at something in the vehicle, looking at something outside the vehicle, singing, grooming, and reaching for an object also were common causes of driver distraction in crashes.
“It is troubling that passengers and cell phones were the most common forms of distraction given that these factors can increase crash risks for teen drivers,” said AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet. “The situation is made worse by the fact that young drivers have spent less time behind the wheel and cannot draw upon their previous experience to manage unsafe conditions.”
Vehicle event recorders and onboard cameras were used to collect data for crashes and other events (like loss of control, leaving the roadway, or making emergency stops or evasive maneuvers). Using the car’s interior-mounted camera, researchers looked at the final six seconds before the crash, discovering that distracted driving was a common cause of multi-vehicle collisions and road run-off excursions, while excessive speed and inclement weather were common causes for loss-of-control events. Rear-enders, caused by a combination of distracted driving behaviors and following too closely, were common for many teen drivers.
The organization’s recommendations include graduated driver licensing laws for new drivers, which place limits on passengers and handheld cell phone use during the first six months of driving for a new license-holder. Additionally, AAA suggests that parents and teens enter into a safe-driving agreement that includes strict rules on distracted driving, as parental involvement in the learning-to-drive process helps teens understand the risks associated with operating a car or truck better.
As with many other organizations, AAA recommends a total ban on texting while driving for all vehicle operators, both teens and adults. The B-roll footage, released by the foundation, is a chilling explanation as to why. The footage isn’t violent or graphic in nature (no dead teenagers here), but otherwise, it’s a bit like watching a horror movie: you can see the accident coming and you’re powerless to prevent it. Check out the video (and other learning tools and resources) here.
Teen driving safety is of paramount importance, as young drivers have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. According to AAA, about 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police reported crashes in 2013, resulting in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety