Teen drivers are the age group most likely to be involved in traffic accidents, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The Foundation conducted an eight-year study, from 2007 to 2015, on teen driver behaviors and habits. The study also tracked the causes of approximately 2,200 moderate to severe traffic accidents and found that teen driving distractions played a part in about 58 percent of the crashes.
The data collected showed the following were the top three distractions while driving for teens.
3) Attending to Something Inside the Vehicle
Teens paying attention to an object or condition in their vehicle was the third most common crash-causing distraction. The study defined attending to something inside the vehicle as, “Driver is looking at something of unknown location inside the vehicle.” About ten percent (238 crashes) of the crashes occurred due to this type of distraction.
2) Cell Phone Use
With all the data on cell phone use as the biggest distraction among all drivers, it is a bit surprising cell phone use only ranked as the second most prevalent distraction among teen drivers.
Approximately 11.9 percent of teen driver crashes occurred while the driver was using a cell phone. Of the 266 cell phone-related crashes, 203 involved the driver looking at or manipulating the phone, while 67 involved talking on or listening to the phone.
1) Attending to Passengers
The deadliest behavior by far was attending to passengers. Fourteen percent of serious crashes with teen drivers occurred when the driver was distracted by something one of their passengers was doing. Of all the crashes assessed in the study, one-third of them included passengers on board and 9.8 percent of those crashes included two or more passengers.
Crashes caused by attending to passengers caused 326 of the studied accidents. This type of distraction may include behaviors such as:
- Talking to passengers
- Physical contact (e.g., hugging, poking, shoving, etc.)
- Looking at passengers
- Arguing with passengers
These behaviors lead to an extended time where the teen driver’s eyes are not on the road, increasing the likelihood of a crash.
Make Sure Your Teen is Prepared to Drive Undistracted
Teen drivers are most at risk of a crash during the summer when school is out and the weather is perfect for group trips. The increase in traffic crashes is why AAA has named the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day the 100 deadliest days of driving.
Talk to your teen about the dangers of cell phone use and driving. You can avoid becoming a cause of phone distraction by waiting until they let you know they have arrived before texting or calling. If you believe your teen cannot curb his cell use habits, there are apps and settings with some phone carriers that allow you to block phone use while their vehicle is in motion.
Another way to prevent teen driver distractions is to help your teen set rules for conduct inside their car and share them with their passengers. Remind anyone who rides with your teen, including your other children, that they should refrain from distracting conduct with or around the driver.