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Study shows impact of distracted teen driving

SAN ANTONIO – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released unprecedented video showing the moments before car crashes involving distracted teenaged drivers.

Video clips were collected by Lytx Inc., a video-based driver safety technology company, using in-vehicle event recorders.

Researchers looked at nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers across the U.S.

Video clips of 10 incidents were released to the public, showing the six seconds leading to an accident, as well as the drivers responses.

"We already know that taking the eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash, said Doug Shupe, AAA spokesman. "When you add cellphones (or) you add other passengers, it really is just a recipe for disaster when you're already got teens (who) are inexperienced."

The study found distracted driving played a role 58 percent of accidents, much higher than previous estimates of 14 percent in studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.       

These were the causes of the accidents:

  • Cellphone 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

It's hoped parents will use the research to teach teens about distracted driving, especially as summer approaches and more teens will be behind the wheel.

"This is the time to talk to them about safe driving habits and, of course, that includes distracted driving," said Shupe.

According to Shupe, it's also hoped the study will be used by states as ammunition to enact or strengthen requirements for graduated driver licensing and distracted driving laws, especially for teens.

The full report is available here.