A six-month study conducted by AAA revealed that teens are very likely to drive while distracted. The AAA Foundation used video clips of newly licensed teens in the Carolinas to measure the frequency of distracted driving. The results were disappointing, if unsurprising. Teens used an electronic device such as a cellphone or tablet in nearly 7 percent of all video clips recorded. Female teenagers were twice as likely use a cellphone or smartphone as males; however, males were twice as likely to turn around while driving to speak to a passenger or grab an item. Other distracted driving behaviors such as grooming or changing the radio (the second most popular form of distracted driving for teens) occurred in 15 percent of all video clips.
Teen distracted driving decreased "significantly" when parents or adults were in the vehicle. However, loud conversations and horseplay doubled when more than one teen was in the car with another teen driver. The study noted that teen drivers were six times as likely to get into a serious car crash when having a loud conversation and over twice as likely to have a high g-force event if there was horseplay, meaning that accidents caused by horseplay are more likely to result in serious injury or death.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
North Carolina bans handheld cellphone use for novice drivers, although the ban has proved difficult to enforce. There is also a ban on texting while driving for all drivers, no matter how experienced.
Still, distracted driving is a serious and prevalent problem, especially for teens. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that teens, more than any other age group, are involved in a fatal accident involving distracted driving. A Pew study revealed that 40 percent of teens self-reported being in a car while the driver used a cellphone in a way that put passengers or other vehicles in danger. In 2009, the latest year data is available, over 5,000 people died and nearly half a million people were injured in accidents involving distracted driving.
Parents can help to reduce distracted driving by teens by continuing to practice driving with their teens even after they have obtained their license, setting and enforcing rules about distracted driving and the number of passengers that can be in the vehicle, and limiting night driving and driving during inclement weather.
If you have been in a car accident that you believe was the result the distracted driving by another, contact a skilled personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights to obtain compensation for your injuries.