Our pal John Paul, AAA’s Car Doctor, brought this video to our attention. It’s chilling because it’s not something cooked up in a lab under controlled circumstances. It’s a video that depicts teens in real driving situations crashing because they’re distracted, and it’s not just mobile devices causing the problem.
AAA researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders.
Distraction was a obvious factor in 58 percent of all the crashes AAA studied. Single vehicle road departures were particularly an issue, with 89 percent of road-departure crashes caused by distraction. Seventy-six percent of rear-end crashes were shown to be influenced by distraction.
NHTSA previously has estimated that distraction is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes, which clearly is missing the issue.
John Paul told us that it was access to in-car video provided insight into the real-world consequences of distraction. “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,” he says. “The situation is made worse by the fact that young drivers have spent less time behind the wheel and cannot draw upon their previous experience to manage unsafe conditions.”
What’s truly surprising is that mobile devices aren’t the number one form of distraction causing teens to crash. According to AAA, the most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:
- Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
- Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
- Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
- Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
- Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
- Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
- Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes
If you have teen drivers, watch this video with them. It’s a great way to open the discussion about driving distraction. AAA recommends that parents teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use and restrict passengers during the learning-to-drive process. Before parents begin practice driving with teens, they should create a parent-teen driving agreement that includes strict ground rules related to distraction. For more information, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com.