The Surprising Number of Teen Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted driving causes far more accidents involving teen drivers than previously recognized, according a recent comprehensive study by the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety.
The video analysis of more than 1,700 accidents involving teen drivers in cars equipped with cameras found that driver distraction was a factor overall in nearly six out of 10 moderate to severe teen crashes. Distraction contributed to 76 percent of rear end collisions and 89 percent of crashes involving a driver running off the road.
The researchers reported that rate of distraction among teen drivers involved in accidents was four times higher than the government estimate that distraction contributes to 14 percent of teen crashes, based on police reports. The new finding is an alarming statistic, but it has long been thought that the government statistic understated the problem of driver distraction.
Through our work representing families harmed by distracted drivers in Oklahoma, the attorneys at Burch, George & Germany recognize that driver distraction is a serious safety issue in our community, particularly among teen drivers. Teens have the highest accident rate among any group of drivers and also account for the largest portion of distracted drivers in fatal accidents, according to distraction.gov. The problem of distraction has only gotten worse with the proliferation of wireless communication devices that many people have with them at all times.
As civic leaders in the Oklahoma City community, we seek to raise awareness of the danger of driver distraction among teens through our Teen Safety Oklahoma Scholarship Contest. Teens have a chance to win a scholarship to help with college expenses by creating a clever public service message about the dangers of distracted driving. Look for more details about the 2nd Annual Teen Safety Scholarship Contest later this year.
The release of the AAA study coincides with the month of April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It’s a good time to renew our focus on the dangers of distraction among teen drivers.
According to the new study, the most frequent types of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:
- 15 percent of crashes—interacting with one or more passengers
- 12 percent—cell phone use
- 10 percent—looking at something in the vehicle
- 9 percent—looking outside the vehicle
- 8 percent—singing to music
- 6 percent—grooming, putting on makeup
- 6 percent—reaching for an object.
Based on the in-depth video analysis of the final seconds before crashes, the researcher said that drivers who were calling or texting on a cell phone had their eyes off the road for an average of four seconds out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash.
There was a tragic accident earlier this year in Oklahoma in which distraction allegedly was a factor. In February, an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman was killed and another trooper seriously injured by a driver who was allegedly updating his social media pages while driving, according to a report in The Oklahoman newspaper. The troopers had stopped on Interstate 40 to investigate a collision involving an overturned tractor trailer and had directed oncoming traffic to move to the far lane away from the truck. The driver involved in the accident has been charged with manslaughter in the trooper’s death.
Keep in mind that distracted driving involves any activity that takes a driver’s attention off the road. Because sending text messages or emails with handheld cellphones requires drivers to take the eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel, this activity is far more dangerous.
Check our website in coming months for more information about our 2nd Annual Oklahoma Teen Oklahoma Safety. And when you are driving, keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and drive safely.
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