Report: Teen Drivers More Often Distracted Than Previously Reported

New research reveals distraction among teen drivers is a bigger issue than previously reported. cardashboard.jpg

The study analyzed in-car videos of more than 1,600 crashes involving Midwest teen drivers between August 2007 and July 2013. The results indicated that distraction was a primary factor in 60 percent of crashes in which a teenager was behind the wheel. Additionally, distraction was to blame in 90 percent of the cases in which a teen motorist careened off the road. It was also indicated in three-fourths of the cases in which a teen rear-ended another vehicle.

On average, young drivers tore their eyes from the road an average of 4 seconds prior to each accident. In most cases, it was a cell phone that had captured their attention. In fact, in 50 percent of cases where there was a rear-end collision, the teen driver didn’t even attempt to brake or swerve to avoid the car in front.

Other types of distraction – such as eating or drinking, changing the radio station and grooming were cited in about 15 percent of all clips.

The fact is, we’ve known for some time that distraction among teens behind the wheel was a serious problem. What this study reveals is that the problem is much more dire than we thought.

Previous research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated only about 15 percent of all crashes involving teen drivers were related to distractions.

While young female drivers were twice as likely to be distracted by a smartphone behind the wheel, young male drivers were twice as likely to turn around while driving, either to grab something or to speak to a passenger.

Our Asheville accident attorneys know the law. In North Carolina, handheld cellphones are banned for novice drivers. Texting, meanwhile, is illegal for all drivers, no matter their age or experience level. Unfortunately, however, these bans have proven tough to enforce, and clearly, young drivers continue to engage in this dangerous activity on a daily basis. The penalties are also rather weak – a citation and a fine of between $25 to $100 – given the potentially deadly consequences such actions can have. It makes it seem as if the offense isn’t serious, when in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Teens are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal crash involving distraction. A study by the Pew Research Center indicated 40 percent of teens self-reported they used their smartphone behind the wheel in a way that put others at risk.

It’s estimated about 5,000 people are killed and 500,000 injured in distracted driving crashes. What this latest study, conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa, suggests is that these figures are actually low estimates, and that the true toll of distraction among teen drivers is in fact much higher.

It’s worth noting the teens in this study knew they were being filmed. This suggests the tendency to engage in distractions behind the wheel is so common, so second-nature, that they were unconcerned about it later being viewed.

Contact the North Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Teen distracted driving worse than thought, new study shows, March 30, 2015, By Tony Bizjak, The San Francisco Bee

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