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Distracted Driving Prevalent in Teen Crashes

Distracted teen driving may be worse than originally thought.

According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving was a factor in 58 percent of moderate-to-severe teen crashes after researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers. The research also showed that distracted driving affected 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) previously estimated that distracted driving was a factor in only 14 percent of all teen crashes.

The study revealed the most common form of distracted driving is interaction with one or more passengers, making up 15 percent of the crashes. Cell phone use was second, accounting for 12 percent of crashes while looking at something in the vehicle was a factor in 10 percent. Looking at something outside the vehicle was nine percent while singing and moving to music attributed to eight percent. Grooming was found in six percent of the crashes, as was reaching for an object.

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Researchers found that drivers distracted by their cell phones had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. In addition, distracted teen drivers using their cell phones failed to react more than half of the time before a rear-end collision.

“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 for Traffic Safety. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”