AAA Traffic Safety Foundation video analysis shows teen drivers more distracted than we thought

We know that teens and distractions behind the wheel are not a good mix. Now we’re learning the dangers are worse than we thought.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found distractions were a factor in 58 percent of moderate to severe crashes involving teen drivers. That's four times the rate in many previous official estimates based on police reports.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has previously estimated that distraction of all kinds is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes.

The researchers examined more than 6,800 videos from cameras inside cars (August 2007 to July 2013). The videos show what teen drivers are doing when accidents happen.

Peter Kissinger, the foundation's president and CEO, said the videos show "indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.''

Key Findings:

The most frequent behaviors were conversing or otherwise interacting with passengers and cell phone use.

  • Passengers were present in 36% of all crashes
  • 84 percent of passengers were estimated to be ages 16 to 19
  • The driver was talking or otherwise interacting with passengers in 15 percent of the crashes
  • The driver was using a cell phone 12 percent of crashes

Decision errors such as failing to yield right of way, running stop signs and driving too fast, were involved in 66 percent of crashes.

MORE: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report


Sources: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, NBC 4 Washington

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