Distraction is the major factor in almost six out of ten moderate-to-severe crashes involving teenagers, according to "the most comprehensive research ever conducted" into teen drivers by the AAA.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a video to accompany their new research to highlight how distracted teenage drivers are a more serious problem than previously assumed.
Researchers at the AAA looked at the six seconds leading up to a crash in almost 1,700 videos of teen drivers, obtained from recorders such as dash cams. The result? Distraction was a factor in 58 per cent of all crashes. To put that in perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had previously estimated that distraction was the cause of 14 per cent of teenage car crashes.
Breaking down the AAA's findings, researchers found that interacting with one or more passengers caused 15 per cent of crashes, while mobile phone use resulted in 12 per cent of accidents. Looking at something in or outside the vehicle caused 10 and 9 per cent of crashes respectively. Six per cent of accidents were caused by teenage grooming.
As the video shows, with numerous teenagers checking their phones as their vehicle veers off the side of the road, when texting on their mobiles, teenagers had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 of the final six seconds before the crash occurred.
"Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible," said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”
Teenagers have the highest crash rate of any demographic in the USA: 963,000 drivers between 16 and 19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013. These accidents caused 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.
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