AAA study: Distracted teen driving more dangerous than previously found

Mar 25, 2015, 5:53 AM | Updated: 5:53 am

New data finds distracted teen driving may be more dangerous than previously expected.

According to a study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving is a factor in nearly 6 out of every 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes.

That is four times more than official government estimates based on police data.

“So what this tells us is that distracted driving among teen drivers is a much more serious problem than previously known,” AAA Arizona spokeswoman Michelle Donati said.

AAA researchers analyzed about 1,700 crash videos of teen drivers with cameras filming on the inside. They wanted to see what the most common forms of distraction were leading up to teen crashes.

“Unprecedented access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a crash in a way that was previously impossible,” Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona, said. “This analysis provides irrefutable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in much greater numbers than we previously realized.”

AAA also found:

• Interacting with one or more passengers causes 15 percent of crashes.

• Cellphone use plays a role in 12 percent of crashes.

• Looking at something in the vehicle causes 10 percent of crashes.

• Looking at something outside the vehicle is responsible for 9 percent of crashes.

• Singing/moving to music was cited in 8 percent of crashes.

• Grooming caused 6 percent of crashes.

• Reaching for an object led to 6 percent of crashes.

Donati said the numbers are proof that Arizona needs stronger laws against distracted teen driving.

“Teen crashes affect everyone,” she said. “It is not just the teen driver and their family, but it is all road users.”

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AAA study: Distracted teen driving more dangerous than previously found