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July/August 2015 Issue

Distractions cause more teen crashes than suspected

Your Driving CostsThe most comprehensive research ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers has found that distracted driving–especially texting and talking with passengers–is far more serious and pervasive than previously known, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The unprecedented video analysis found that distraction was a factor in nearly six out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes, which is four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The results showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied, including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration previously had estimated that distraction is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes.

For the study, researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. They found that drivers manipulating their cell phone (calling, texting, or other uses) had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash.

When measuring reaction times in rear-end crashes, researchers found that teen drivers using a cell phone failed to react more than half of the time before impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering.

The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included

interacting with one or more passengers (15 percent of crashes), cell phone use (12 percent), and looking at something in the car (10 percent).

Parents play a critical role in preventing distracted driving for teens, who have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. AAA recommends that before parents begin practice driving with teens, they should create a parent-teen driving agreement that includes strict rules related to cell phone use and passengers. For a sample agreement and more resources, visit



Study shows that teenage drivers put everyone at risk

Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen, according to a new report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In 2013 alone, 371,645 people were injured and 2,927 were killed in crashes that involved a teen driver. The study analyzed data of police-reported crashes of 15- to 19-year-old drivers from 1994–2013 and found that:

  • The majority of people killed (66 percent) and injured (67 percent) in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen (similar results as an earlier AAA study)
  • Nearly 50 percent of those injured were in another car, 17 percent were in the teen’s car, and 2 percent were non-motorists (pedestrians, bicyclists)
  • Nearly 30 percent of those killed were in another car, 27 percent were the teen’s passenger, and 10 percent were non-motorists

“Teen drivers need to understand that their actions impact not just themselves but everyone around them,” said Mike Right, vice president of AAA public affairs.



Mississippi teen texting ban now extends to adults

To reduce dangerous distractions behind the wheel, Mississippi has become the 45th state to ban texting while driving for all motorists.

The law, which takes effect July 1 of this year, prohibits motorists from texting, e-mailing, and accessing social networking sites. The previous law only banned texting for drivers under 18 and for school bus drivers. The fine is $25 until July 1, 2016, and $100 thereafter.


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