Teen Drivers More Likely Than Not To Have Been Distracted Before Crash, Study Finds

Distractions are gaining increased attention as a leading factor in car accidents on US roads, and with good reason. According to a recent study spanning nearly ten years, distractions play a role in an alarmingly-high rate of crashes involving teen drivers, both in the form of distractions caused by passengers and by cell phone use.

In conducting its study on teen drivers, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety used footage collected between 2007 and 2015 from dashboard-mounted cameras in cars driven by 16 to 19-year-old drivers. Specifically, researchers looked at footage gathered from over 2,200 cars involved in collisions, and determined what happened in the car during the six seconds prior to a crash. In 59% of collision-involved cars, the driver was engaging in a form of potentially-distracting behavior in the seconds before a crash. In 34% of those crashes, passengers were present in the car, and in 15%, the driver was engaging their passenger in some way right before the crash. While many states have laws that bar teen drivers from carrying passengers under the age of 21, nearly 85% of the passengers in cars involved in crashes appeared to be between 16 and 19 years old.

In 12% of the analyzed crashes, the driver was seen to be using their cell phone in the moments before a collision. Cell phone use was found to correlate more strongly with certain types of accidents. For example, drivers were observed operating or looking down at their phone in 28% of all crashes where the car left the road, and in 19% of all rear-end crashes. Along the course of the study, drivers became increasingly less likely to have known that a crash was about to occur beforehand. While 13% of all drivers participating in the study in 2008 showed no reaction prior to a collision, that percentage ballooned to 25% in 2014.

Relatedly, drivers became far more likely to spend an increasing amount of time looking away from the road. The average length of time drivers had their eyes off the road increased from 2 seconds to 3.1 seconds over the course of the study. Parents should advise young drivers of the potential for harm caused by driving while distracted, prohibit teens from driving with young passengers until they establish themselves as safe drivers, and strictly enforce rules barring cell phone use while behind the wheel.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a crash with a distracted driver in Alabama, speak with the experienced, knowledgeable, and trial-ready personal injury lawyers at Cobb, Boyd, White & Cobb to determine if you may have a legal claim for damages, in Dothan at 334-677-1000.