Distractions a Problem for Teen Drivers, AAA Study Finds

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

6 In 10 Crashes Caused By Distracted Driving, AAA Says.

WASHINGTON — Distractions — especially talking with passengers and using cellphones — play a far greater role in car crashes involving teen drivers than has been previously understood, according to compelling new evidence cited by safety researchers.An analysis of nearly 1,700 in-car videos of teen drivers shows that distraction is a much more prevalent contributor to serious crashes than originally thought, a traffic safety foundation reported Wednesday.Researchers examined nearly 7,000 videos from cameras mounted in vehicles showing what drivers were doing seconds before impact and what was happening on the road. “When you can actually see these videos and see the reaction and the distractions that are going right before a crash, it is really a scary situation,” she said.MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new study by AAA found that distraction driving was a factor in nearly six out of 10 moderate to severe accidents involving teenagers.

Distractions — including chatting with a passenger, texting and grooming — were factors in nearly 60 percent of moderate-to-severe teen crashes reviewed in a study funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and conducted by the University of Iowa. Foundation President Peter Kissinger said in a statement that the “in-depth analysis” provided “indisputable evidence” of distraction being a much greater risk for young drivers. “Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” he added. Most of the drivers resided in the Midwest, the foundation reported, and the crashes occurred from August 2007 to July 2013. “The teens did know that they were being filmed,” AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher said Wednesday, “which is scary because distraction was still so common.” Rob Foss, director of the Center for the Study of Young Drivers at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, said the work was “a gold mine of data.” But he noted that researchers did not review crashes in which a teen driver was struck from the rear by another driver. Other forms of distraction included: the driver looking at something in the vehicle, 10%; looking at something outside the vehicle other than the road, 9%; singing or dancing to music, 8%. The foundation got the videos from Lytx Inc., which offers programs that use video to coach drivers in improving their behavior and reducing collisions.

AAA recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers and also, for the first six months of driving, restrict passengers to one non-family member. In the first year of having a driver’s license, for example, 16-year-old drivers in Illinois are limited to one teen passenger who is not an immediate family member. In one video released by AAA, a teenage boy is seen trying to navigate a turn on a rain-slicked road with one hand on the wheel and a cellphone held to his ear in the other hand. The foundation said it examined more than 6,800 videos of which about 1,700 involved crashes or events where the driver had to forcefully apply brakes.

The videos were each about 12 seconds long and were provided by Lytx Inc., whose DriveCam program collects video, audio and accelerometer data when a driver brakes hard or has a collision. Secretary of state spokesman Dave Druker called the study “excellent” and “an important contribution” to the research. “Any exposure to this issue is important,” he added.

Druker added that he hoped the study results would encourage more teen drivers to focus on driving and eliminate the use of cellphones and other distractions in the car. The list also included singing or moving to music as a contributor in 8 percent of crashes; grooming and reaching for an object each played a distracting role in 6 percent of accidents. The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using cellphones failed to react more than half of the time before the impact.

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