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Study: Distracted Driving Accounts for Majority of Teen Crashes

A new study just released by the American Automobile Association (AAA) concludes that distracted driving contributes to 58 percent of car accidents involving teen drivers. This is more than 4 times the previous estimates that were based on police reports.

The study counted 6 different types of distraction that caused crashes. According to the analysis, interacting with other passengers led to 15 percent of crashes, followed by cellphone use which resulted in 12 percent of crashes. Looking at something inside the car, looking at something outside the car other than the road ahead, groom, reaching for something, and singing or moving to music were other distractions that lead to crashes.

Bob Darbelnet, chief executive officer of AAA stated, "It is troubling that passengers and cellphones were the most common forms of distraction given that these factors can increase crash risks for teen drivers." Mr. Darbelnet continued, "The situation is made worse by the fact that young drivers have spent less time behind the wheel and cannot draw upon their previous experience to manage unsafe conditions."

AAA provided 6,842 videos of crashes involving drivers aged 16 to 19 between August 2007 and July 2013 to researchers. After reviewing the videos, researchers narrowed down the videos to 1,691 moderate to severe crashes that were examined for the study.

After analyzing the video and content, researchers concluded that texting, calling, or other cell phone usage distracted teen drivers for an average of 4.1 seconds in the final 6 seconds before a crash impact. The study also found that when teen drivers cause rear-end collisions, more than 50 percent of the time, the crash occurred without any attempt to avoid the collision or any attempt at braking.

Teen drivers have the highest rate of auto insurance and crash rate in the country. Federal data indicates that in 2013 about 963,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and19 were involved in car accidents. These accidents caused 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.

Parents of teen drivers should discuss the dangers of distracted driving and set parameters on how many people can be in the car with a teen driver at one time. Parents are also encouraged to forbid any type of mobile phone usage while a teen is behind the wheel.

In West Virginia, it is against the law to operate a mobile phone without a utilizing a hands free device.

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