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Distraction of Teen Drivers is on the Rise

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This week marks the beginning of the 100 deadliest days on the road, and new research from the AAA Foundation has found that distracted driving among teenagers is much more common than previously thought.

In 2014, younger drivers, especially teenagers, had the highest rates of crashes because of distracted driving. But reports show that only 11% of Utah crashes that year were attributed to distracted drivers. Rolayne Fairclough with AAA Utah says that number is low.

“It’s very difficult for police to get a really accurate gauge on distraction because they’re really self-reported,” Fairclough says. “You have to tell the officer, ‘yes, I was on the phone, or I was texting,’ and that often times doesn’t happen, as you can imagine.”

But new research from the AAA foundation and the University of Iowa shows that nearly 60% of teenage crashes involve distraction. To get that number, researchers installed dash cams in teens’ cars. They found that in the six seconds leading up to a collision, the majority of teenage drivers were distracted—usually by other passengers or their cell phones.

Utah law prohibits new drivers from having non-family passengers in their cars for the first six months after receiving a driver’s license.

“And parents should really enforce that rule,” she says. “For every teenager you add to a teen driver’s car, it’s just an incredible increase in the probability of crashes.” 

Fairclough says parents should monitor their teenager’s driving and come up with an agreement on car usage and rules.

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