*The following is excerpted from an online article from Forbes.
Crashes caused by distracted teen drivers may be a much more serious problem than previously thought, possibly even four times greater than earlier estimates. Distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes in a new analysis of data.
These are the major findings of a report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education organization. The group called the study an "unprecedented look" into the causes of teen crashes and "the most comprehensive research ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers," a group that has the highest crash rate in the United States.
For the study, researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in 1,691 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. The results showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied. Previous estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that distraction is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes, the group said.
The report found that 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
In analyzing the videos, researchers found that teen drivers who manipulated their cell phone had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash, and in rear-end crashes failed to react more than half of the time before impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering.
Based on the report’s findings, the AAA recommends that states prohibit all cell phone use by teen drivers and restrict passengers to one non-family member for the first six months of driving. Currently, 33 states have graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws that prevent cell phone use for teens and 18 states have passenger restrictions meeting AAA’s recommendations, the group noted.