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AAA Study Shows Dangers of Teens' Distracted Driving

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Courtesy AAA Foundation

New research from AAA and the University of Iowa shows teenage drivers are much more distracted than previously thought.

Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a collision in nearly 1,700 videos from in-vehicle cameras. Videos show that 58% of crashes were caused because drivers were distracted, mostly by cell phones or other passengers. Previous estimates put distraction as the cause of teen crashes at only 14%.

AAA Utah spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough says that’s probably because distracted driving needs to be self-reported in a collision, but with the recording devices in teenager’s cars, there’s now evidence. “Well you know, what I think is interesting is these teens all knew these cameras were in their car, it wasn’t a surprise, and they were still on their phones texting,” she says.

The study found that teenagers using their cell phones while driving had their eyes off the road for an average of four out of the six seconds leading up to a collision. Fairclough says parents should set strict rules for their teenagers on the road.

“It would be just a good idea: absolutely no telephones,” she says. “No calls at all, doesn’t matter Bluetooth or not, no calls. You just don’t do that, you pull over if you need to make a call. Texting absolutely is against the law and it’s just one of the most dangerous things a teen can do.”

Teenage drivers were involved in nearly a million police-reported crashes in 2013, about 11,000 of those happened in Utah. 

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