AAA: Distraction a factor in 60 percent of teen crashes

Southfield, Mich. (WJBK) -- New research from AAA found that distracted driving is a factor in nearly 60 percent of teen driver crashes.  That's four times more than estimated from official police reports.

Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to crashes in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle cameras.  The results showed that distraction was a major factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied, including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes.

Previously, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had estimated distraction was a factor in only 14 percent of teen driver crashes.

"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." 

Some of the most common distractions leading up to teen crashes include interacting with passengers, cell phone use, and singing or moving to music.

AAA recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers and restrict passengers to one non-family member for the first six months of driving.  AAA also recommends parents talk to their new drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States.  AAA reports about 963,000 drivers age 16 to 19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013, which is the most recent year of available data. These crashes resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths

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