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Distracted teen drivers a bigger problem than realized

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has some disconcerting findings for the parents of teen drivers. Exhaustive research of crash videos with teenage drivers shows that distracted driving is much more of a problem than it was thought previously to be.

Video analysis discovered distraction factored into almost 60 percent of teen collisions that were identified as moderate-to-severe. That number is four times as high as officially estimated from police reports.

By analyzing the six seconds prior to collisions in almost 1,700 teen driving videos made from recordings inside the vehicles, researchers noted that some form of distraction occurred in 58 percent of the wrecks they studied. Before the study was conducted, NHTSA estimated distraction was a factor in a mere 14 percent of accidents involving teen drivers.

Below are the most common distractions that led to collisions:

-- Interactions with passengers (15 percent)

-- Cellphone usage (12 percent)

-- Looking at something inside of the car (10 percent)

-- Looking at something outside of the car (9 percent)

-- Singing along to music (8 percent)

-- Personal grooming (6 percent)

-- Reaching for something (6 percent)

Cellphone usage contributed substantially to rear-end collisions, as teens failed to react over 50 percent of the time just before impact, i.e., the crash occurred with no attempt to brake or steer evasively.

Parents may wish to review safety rules with their teen drivers in light of these statistics. If your teen was injured in an accident caused by another teenage driver, you may need to file a claim for damages for their injuries in order for them to be financially compensated.

Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, "Distraction and Teen Crashes: Even Worse than We Thought," accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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