Study Finds Majority of Teen Crashes Preceded by Distracting Behavior

A study which examined in-vehicle footage collected from hundreds of teens’ cars concluded that distractions played a much larger role in car accidents than previously believed. Parents of teens, as well as those sharing the road with teen drivers, should take note of the dangerous effect distractions can have on driving safety.

Over the course of eight years, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety aggregated footage from cameras mounted on the dashboards of drivers between the ages of 16 and 19. Specifically, researchers examined what was happening in the cars of over 2,200 teen drivers in the six seconds before a collision occurred. The researchers discovered that, in 59% of crashes, drivers were engaged in a form of behavior that could have been distracting immediately before the crash. While many states have laws limiting the presence or age of passengers in teen drivers’ cars, 34% of all cars involved in crashes had passengers, and nearly 85% of those passengers appeared to be between the ages of 16 and 19. In 15% of crashes, the driver was engaging with their passengers in some way immediately before a crash.

Unsurprisingly, cell phone use also played a prominent role in the accidents studied. Over the course of the study, the manner in which cell phones interfered with driver attention shifted. While earlier videos depicted more distractions caused by talking on a cell phone, later videos involved more crashes following a driver operating or looking down at their phone. To this point, the average length of time that teen drivers spent looking away from the road increased from 2 to 3.1 seconds over the study length. Cell phones were also found to be a factor in certain types of crashes more than others. 28% of all crashes where the teen’s car left the roadway were preceded by the driver looking at or operating their phone, but cell phone use before a crash was least common in accidents where the driver lost control of their vehicle.

According to statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 14% of crashes are caused by distracted driving. While it may be true that distractions are not as common among adult drivers as they are among teens, it seems more likely that distracted driving is underreported across all demographics, as drivers are likely embarrassed to admit that they were distracted prior to a crash.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash with a distracted driver in South Carolina, get help pursuing a claim for damages by contacting the knowledgeable and skilled Spartanburg personal injury attorneys at Anderson, Moore, Bailey & Nowell for a consultation, at 864-641-6431.