According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 10% of all fatal accidents involving teen drivers, the driver was reported to have been distracted prior to the crash, which is higher than the proportion of distracted driving-related fatalities in any other age group. Still, experts believe that this is a dramatic underestimate of the effects of distracted driving on roadway safety, especially among teens. According to a new study that relied on video recordings of teens prior to an accident rather than eyewitness reports, distracting behavior plays a much larger role in car accidents among teen drivers than previously believed.
The study in question, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, analyzed video gathered from over 2,200 cars involved in accidents while being driven by teens aged 16-19. The study looked at what the teens were doing prior to the crash, whether or not the car contained passengers, and whether or not the car’s occupants were wearing seatbelts. According to the researchers’ analysis, 58% of those involved in an accident had been engaged in a distracting behavior prior to a crash. Passengers were present in 34% of all crashes, and in 84% of cases, those passengers were between 16 and 19 years old. Distractions caused by interactions with passengers constituted the largest single distraction, with about 15% of all accidents being preceded by a driver attending to their passengers in some way (talking to or interacting with them). Cell phone use was observed prior to a crash in 12% of all accidents, and drivers were seen attending to something inside the car prior to nearly 11% of all accidents.
Researchers observed certain shifts in behavior over the course of the study. While researchers didn’t see an increase in cell phone use, they did observe a shift in how cell phones were used by teen drivers. Specifically, researchers found that teens became more likely to be distracted by looking down at and operating their cell phone rather than speaking on it. Between 2007 and 2015, the average amount of time that drivers spent with their eyes off the road increased, as did the number of rear-end crashes. In fact, the share of accidents where the driver did not show a reaction prior to the crash increased to 25% of all accidents by 2014, increasing from a starting point of 13% in 2008. If you’re a parent of teen drivers, remind them of the risks involved in driving with their friends, and encourage them to keep their phones out of reach while they’re behind the wheel.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident in Mississippi, seek experienced and compassionate legal help in obtaining the monetary damages to which you may be entitled by contacting Biloxi personal injury lawyer Corban Gunn for a consultation, at 228.284.6805.