A new study on teen driving showed 58% of all moderate-to-severe teen crashes were caused by some sort of distraction, such as smartphones, other people in the car, eating food or putting on makeup. These statistics are four times higher than most estimates based on police reports.
In the study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers looked at 1,700 videos of teen drivers filmed from inside the car. They assessed the six seconds leading up to the crash and found that distraction was a factor in 58% of all crashes. In fact, these distractions influenced 89% of road-departure crashes and 76% of rear-end collisions.
Cell phone use was one of the leading sources of distraction, representing 12% of the crashes. 15% of accidents involved the driver interacting with one or more passenger, while 10% involved looking at something inside the vehicle.
“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a statement. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”
Many states, like Washington, are now seeking to put a ban on smartphone use while driving to avoid statistics like this in the future. New York has even gone as far as creating “Texting Zones” on highways to provide a place for people to pull over and text during a long drive. It may take a while for these actions to reduce the number of crashes teens experience, but at least there are fforts being made to combat this problem in the future.