Study: Distractions a large factor in teen driver auto accidents

Whether talking to passengers, changing the radio station or using cell phones, there are a number of distractions that may affect teen drivers in Missouri, and elsewhere. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 292,000 teenage drivers were injured in 2011, and approximately 2,650 were killed, in auto accidents. Inexperience has long been considered a large contributing factor in collisions involving teens. Based on a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, however, distractions are prevalent in teen driver crashes.

For the study, researchers from the University of Iowa examined naturalistic data from collisions involving teenage motorists. The data was obtained from a program using DriveCams that were installed in the vehicles of participants between 16 and 19-years-old. It included video clips captured in the six seconds prior to 1,691 eligible car collisions. The types of accidents included were rear-ends, front-to-side angle crashes, single-vehicle departures from the road and loss of control single-vehicle accidents.

Based on the study’s findings, many of the teen drivers were distracted just prior to the examined accidents occurring. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 58 percent of the collisions involved a distracted driver. Cell phone use, although a common distraction, was not the leading distracting behavior in the crashes studied. In 15 percent of the accidents, the teen drivers were conversing or interacting with passengers. The study found that cell phone use was involved in 12 percent of the collisions.

Distractions can be a danger for all motorists in Missouri, and throughout the U.S. For inexperienced teen drivers, however, they may increase the chances of collisions. As a result of collisions involving distracted teen drivers, other drivers and passengers may be seriously injured, or killed. Those who have been involved in situations such as this may find it of benefit to consult with a legal professional. An attorney may advise them of their rights, as well as their options for seeking compensation.

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