In what is said to be the most comprehensive study into teen driving, the AAA Foundation has conducted research examining video footage of nearly 1700 teenage drivers in the moments leading up to car accidents. They discovered that the issue of distracted teen drivers is actually much worse than was previously estimated using police reports. In our Phoenix personal injury law office we often see cases where teen drivers' inexperience and overconfidence leads to injury. Distracted driving is determined to be a factor in 60% of the crashes, which is actually 4 times the amount that had been estimated. The in-depth analysis found the most common distractions in ranking order were:
- Talking to other passengers in the vehicles at 15% of crashes.
- Using a wireless device at 12%.
- Looking away from the road at something in the vehicle, 10% of the crashes.
- Looking at something outside the car was 9%.
- Singing or dancing along to the music in the car, a factor in 8%.
- Reaching for an object in the car calculated at 6% of crashes.
It is surprising that interacting with other passengers in the vehicle was the most distracting for teens when cell phone use would be the perceived highest distraction. Using the cell phone, however, caused teens on average to look away from the road for 4.1 of the 6 seconds before the crash. Also, teenagers using their phone involved in rear-end car accidents failed to react at all before impact half of the time. That means that half of the time these teen drivers crashed without even breaking or steering. Teens have the highest crash rate of any group and car crash is the number one killer of teenagers in the United States. With these circumstances it is even more important that teens know the dangers of distracted driving and have the practical experience to be able to cope with hazardous situations.
Jay Ciulla is a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer practicing in the state Arizona.