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AAA Reveals Top Driving Distractions for Teens

Jun 03, 2016 09:48AM ● By Bill Gilman
(Editor's Note: content was provided from AAA Northeast)
 
As the summer driving season begins AAA aims to bring increased awareness to the “100 Deadliest Days,” which is the period beginning on Memorial Day when crashes involving teenage deaths increase. Over the last five years more than 5,000 people have been killed during this timeframe, according to AAA Northeast. The  AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is releasing a follow-up study to examine the causes of these crashes. The study confirms that nearly 60 percent of teen crashes result from distracted driving, highlighting the disturbing trend of teen crashes involving texting and social media use behind the wheel.

Crashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer months because teens drive more during this time of year. Over the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days”:
  • An average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers
  • The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 16-19 increased by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year
This year’s new follow-up report from the AAA Foundation was completed through a comprehensive eight-year research project involvingcrash videos of teen drivers. Collaboratively, researchers at the University of Iowa and the AAA Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos captured from in-car dash cameras. The report examines the new crash videos comparatively with videos captured from 2007-2012 and found consistency in the top three distractions for teen drivers in the moments leading up to a crash:
  • Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle: 15 percent of crashes
  • Talking, texting or operating a cell phone: 12 percent of crashes
  • Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: 11 percent of crashes
“Every day during the summer driving season, an average of 10 people die as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs for AAA Northeast. “This new research shows that distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers. By better understanding how teens are distracted on the road, we can better prevent deaths throughout the 100 Deadliest Days and the rest of the year.”
 
Researchers during the study discovered that the way teens use their cellphone while behind that wheel has changed significantly since the first study was completed in 2007. The follow up study discovered that teens were far more likely to be texting or otherwise looking down at the phone than they would be engaged in a phone call in the moments before a crash. Consistent with Pew Research findings suggesting that fifty-five percent of teens spend time every day texting, sending roughly 80 text messages a day.

“It’s no secret that teens are extremely connected to their cell phones,” said Maguire. “Many teens are texting or using social media behind the wheel more often than in the past, which is making an unsafe situation even worse.”

Research performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey also shows that from 2007 to 2014, the percentage of young drivers seen visibly manipulating a hand-held device quadrupled. This is compounded by a recent AAA Foundation survey which shows that nearly 50 percent of teen drivers admitted they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days.

“Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves,” continued Maguire. “This shows that teen drivers can be a risk to everyone on the road and it is important to regulate their actions when behind the wheel.”

Keeping cell phones out of the hands of teen drivers continues to be a top priority for AAA. The Association’s advocacy efforts are helping to protect teens by working to pass graduated driver licensing legislation and teen wireless bans in states across the country.

In preparation for the “100 Deadliest Days”, AAA encourages parents to educate their teen about the dangers of distracted driving and monitor their actions behind the wheel.  Parents should:
·         Have conversations early and often about the dangers of distraction.
·         Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules against distracted driving.
·         Teach by example and minimize distractions when driving.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous conditions of summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches for their children. Also included is advice on how to manage teen’s overall driving privileges at various stages following them gaining their license. Teens themselves should prepare for the responsibility of driving by enrolling in a driver education program that highlights how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.
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