A study published recently by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety underscores the need for parents to talk with their teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

As the study notes, 963,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 were involved in auto accidents in 2013, with 383,000 teens suffering injuries and 2,865 losing their lives.

Based on the results of the AAA study, which was conducted by University of Iowa researchers, distracted driving may have played a role in many of those crashes.

For the study, researchers analyzed videos (shot by in-vehicle cameras) of roughly 1,700 “moderate-to-severe” crashes involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 19. Out of those crashes, the researchers found that driver inattention or engagement in some type of non-driving-related activity contributed to:

  • 58% of all accidents
  • 44% of accident where the driver lost control
  • 89% of crashes in which the vehicle left the road
  • 76% of rear-end collisions
  • 51% of angle crashes.

“The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized,” Pete Kissinger, the President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a released statement.

Study Finds Teen Drivers Are Engaged in Many Kinds of Distractions

The study highlights the importance of talking with teens about the fact that distracted driving goes beyond talking on a cell phone or texting while driving. Any activity that requires a driver to take his or her mind off the task of driving, eyes off the road or hands off the wheel could lead to a serious or deadly crash.

The most common teen driving distractions identified in the AAA study were:

ActivityPct of Crashes
Interaction with another passenger15%
Using a hand-held or hands-free cell phone12%
Looking at something outside of the vehicle10%
Looking at or for something inside the vehicle9%
Singing or dancing to music8%
Personal grooming activities6%
Reaching for an object inside the vehicle6%

The following are a few of the actions you can take as a parent to encourage your teen to avoid distracted driving: How to Minimize the Risk of Teen Driving Distractions

  • Show your teen the videos from the study. AAA has made several of the videos available to the public. They may be eye-opening to him or her.
  • Talk to your teen about obeying Florida law, which bans texting while driving.
  • Make all drivers – parents and teens alike – sign a family pledge to avoid distracted driving. List the specific distractions that are banned. Provide consequences for breaking the pledge such as losing driving privileges for a day.
  • Limit the number of teen passengers your child can transport. Also, prohibit your teen from riding as a passenger in a car that has several teens in it.

If you are looking for other tips on how to discuss distracted driving with your teen, sites such as Driver-Zed, StartSmart and TeenDriving.AAA.com are excellent resources.

By taking the time to educate your teen about the hazards of distracted driving and the critical importance of avoiding these types of activities, you could help to save the life of your child and protect those who share the road with him or her.

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