Distracted Driving Still Leading Cause of Death for Teens
While crash numbers have dropped over the past 20 years, teens continue to have the highest crash rate of any age group in the country. A number of factors contribute to this, but distractions play a heavier role than anything else according to a comprehensive study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Using unprecedented video analysis, the study found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes (58%), which is four times as many as official estimates based on police reports (14%).
The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:
- Interacting with one or more passengers: 15% of crashes
- Cell phone use: 12% of crashes
- Looking at something in the vehicle: 10% of crashes
- Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9% of crashes
- Singing/moving to music: 8% of crashes
- Grooming: 6% of crashes
- Reaching for an object: 6% of crashes
“Teen Driver Safety Week is a great time to remind everyone about the risks teenagers face when they are learning to drive,” said Amy Stracke, Managing Director of Traffic Safety for AAA - The Auto Club Group and Executive Director of the ACG Traffic Safety Foundation. “These dangers can affect us all and we need to support teen driver safety whenever possible.”
Parents play a critical role in preventing distracted driving and helping their teens to be as safe as possible behind the wheel. AAA recommends that parents teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use and restrict passengers allowed to ride with them when they are learning to drive. Before parents begin practice driving with teens, they should visit their local AAA branch office to get a free Parent Teen Driving Agreement dry erase board that includes strict ground rules related to distraction. This tool and many other resources are also available for both parents and teens at TeenDriving.AAA.com.?
“It is no surprise that teen drivers have fewer crashes when their parents proactively participate in the learning-to-drive process,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. “Parents need to know that their level of involvement has a huge impact on how safe their teens are behind the wheel.”