The release of a new study based on teen driver crash statistics by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety points out that the nation’s teens are much more distracted behind the wheel than it was previously thought. This analysis of hundreds of moderate-to-severe crashes involving teen drivers revealed that nearly 60 percent of these crashes were caused by distracted driving.1 This is a much higher rate than previous safety data and police reports have suggested. With this newly published information, lawyers who help families handle teen driver accidents recommend that both parents and teens be aware of these sobering statistics and discuss ways to prevent distracted driving accidents.

Distracted Teen Driving Has Increased

Lawyers who handle auto accident cases say this March 2015 report studied videos recorded by in-car cameras from nearly 7,000 crashes, with teen drivers involved in 1,700 of them. The startling results of these videos showed that distractions were some of the main causes of car accidents. The distractions included behavior such as cell phone use, looking for something in the vehicle, singing or dancing to music, grooming, and looking at something outside of the vehicle. Talking and interacting with passengers was the most significant distraction, playing a part in 15 percent of all crashes analyzed.1

Of the 1,671 accidents that were analyzed involving teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 years, distraction was the cause of 58 percent of them. In this age group, distraction was a contributing factor in 76 percent of all rear-end accidents, and 89 percent of all roadway departure accidents. In 2013, a total of 963,000 teen drivers aged 16 to 19 were involved in car crashes that resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 fatalities.2 The attorneys who counsel clients involved in auto accidents point out this data was based only on police reports. When that data is compared with the new AAA study, the actual distracted-driving rates are considerably higher.

Reducing the Amount of Teen Distracted Driving

The release of this crash information is significant; it highlights the fact that both teens and their parents must work together to reduce distracted driving accidents. Lawyers who regularly handle auto accident cases advise that this report clearly illustrates the main causes of these incidents and what must be done by teens to reduce their accident risk. Parents need to take an active role in teen driving behavior modification. They should teach their teens to drive as well as establish driving ground rules designed to reduce the likelihood of teenage distracted-driving accidents.

Laws prohibiting cell phone use by teenagers while driving exist in 33 states. AAA continues to encourage more states to pass such laws. In addition, 17 states as well as Washington, D.C. have laws that restrict teen drivers to having only one non-family passenger during their first six months of driving. Auto accident lawyers point out that graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) is an important step to help teens and their parents take distracted driving seriously. Teen drivers are most at risk for any type of accident when he or she is newly licensed and lacks driving experience.

Distracted driving is a serious concern for all drivers. This report clearly shows that distracted driving is a more serious concern for teenage drivers. Auto accident attorneys support the efforts of AAA to increase awareness of this growing epidemic among teenage drivers and stop it from happening. Teens need to be encouraged to talk to their parents about safe driving habits that can prevent distracted-driving accidents. If your teenager has been involved in a distracted-driving accident, seek the assistance of an experienced auto accident lawyer for the help that parents and teen drivers need in these situations.

1AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety: Using Naturalistic Driving Data to Assess the Prevalence of Environmental Factors and Driver Behaviors in Teen Driver Crashes, March 2015

2 AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety – Teen Driver Safety, March 2015

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