Teenage Distracted Driving: Worse Than We Thought?

Teenage distracted driving

New data about the prevalence of distracted driving continues to emerge, and a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reinforces the fact that many people – especially teens – are not paying attention while driving. AAA’s research study data, released in March 2015, found that nearly six out of 10 crashes involving teen drivers were preceded by distractions. Researchers looked at distractions of any kind, including interactions with other passengers, cell phone use and paying attention to anything other than the road ahead.

In the comprehensive study, AAA used video taken by cameras installed in teen drivers’ cars as part of a safe driving program. The video footage revealed that the top two distractions among teens were 1) interacting with one or more passengers in the vehicle and 2) cell phone use. 15 percent of teen drivers were distracted by an interaction with a passenger leading up to a crash, and 12 percent were found to have been distracted by their cell phone. Other significant distractions included looking at something inside or outside the vehicle, singing or dancing to music, grooming and reaching for an object.

The President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Peter Kissinger, said “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.” He said that the ability to analyze crash footage provides evidence that teen drivers are distracted even more than we previously realized.

Although Pennsylvania fatality rates involving teens actually decreased from 2009 to 2013, traffic crashes are still the leading cause of death for the teen age group, who has the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. Nationwide, about 963,000 drivers age 16-19 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.

Read more about AAA’s new study here.