In a recent study, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that six out of 10 motor vehicle accidents involving teens are caused by distracted driving. The biggest culprits causing teens to take their eyes off the road are cell phones and talking with other passengers.
To compile the study, researchers reviewed and analyzed roughly 1,700 videos of teens operating motor vehicles, particularly during the moments leading up to a collision. Approximately 6,850 cameras were installed in the vehicles of drivers ages 16 through 19. The cameras were set up to view both he driver and the driver's view through the front windshield.
The footage revealed that in 60 percent of moderate-to-severe crashes, the driver was not paying attention to the road when the accident occurred. This is particularly surprising, considering that the teen drivers had consented to being videotaped while driving and knew that the tapes would eventually be released. Despite this, the teens engaged in a number of distracted driving activities, suggesting that they did not see the behavior as risky or dubious.
Based on the video footage, teen drivers are most likely to be involved in crashes in which they rear-end another vehicle or swerve out of their lane. Although talking on a cell phone and texting were the main activities causing the teen drivers to lose focus, other distracted driving activities included:
- Looking at something inside the vehicle (10 percent);
- Reaching for something inside the car (6 percent);
- Looking at something outside the vehicle (9 percent);
- Grooming (6 percent); and
- Singing or dancing to music (8 percent).
Currently, car accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths. Roughly 963,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have been involved in police-reported crashes during 2013 alone. Approximately one-third of these crashes result in injuries, while 2,865 resulted in deaths. As this study illustrates, the presence of other passengers in the vehicle and using cell phones while driving increase the chances that a teen will be involved in a collision.
AAA encourages parents to talk with their teenage children about the risks associated with using a cell phone or talking with passengers while driving. One method that may help teens avoid these dangerous driving habits is a parent-teen driving agreement, which sets out strict ground rules the teen must follow or face losing driving privileges. Additionally, AAA offers a driver education program that provides comprehensive information on the risks that teens face when they talk, text, or make phone calls while on the road.
Many teens, however, may be picking up these bad driving habits from their parents. An estimated 47 percent of adult drivers have admitted to texting while driving. The National Safety Council reports that texting while driving is responsible for 1,600,000 collisions each year.
In response to the growing number of collisions cause by distracted driving, some states, including California, Nevada, and Oregon, have enacted distracted driver laws that prohibit motorists from texting or talking on their cell phones without a hands-free device while operating a vehicle. Currently, Florida law bans drivers from texting while driving, including teen drivers and school bus operators. For now, however, Florida statutes do not prohibit motorists from making phone calls while driving and do not require the use of a hands-free cell phone communication guide.
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as the result of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Lusk Drasites & Tolisano have been representing car accident victims in Southwest Florida for over 30 years. Our team of compassionate and experienced attorneys can aggressively assert your rights and help you seek the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 1-800-283-7442 or send us a message online.