Buckle your seat belt; the 100 Deadliest Days began on Memorial Day, a period when national teen crash deaths historically climb.
Over the past five years, AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety research shows more than 5,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes involving teen drivers during the period that lasts until Labor Day.
And to make roadway users aware of this situation, the AAA Foundation has released a follow-up report, confirming nearly 60% of teen crashes involve behind-the-wheel distractions — primarily texting and social media use — that are on the rise among teen drivers. The Foundation is the research arm of the national AAA.
This report is part of the most comprehensive eight-year research project ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers. Collaborating with University of Iowa researchers, the Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 in-car dash camera videos.
Comparing new-crash videos with those captured from 2007 – 2012, the report found consistent trends involving these top three teen-driver distractions in moments leading up to a crash:
- 15% of the crashes involved talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle;
- 12% involved talking, texting or operating a cell phone;
- 11% involved attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle;
“Every day during the summer, an average of 10 people die as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver” said Jurek Grabowski, the Foundation’s Research Director. “This new research shows distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teens”
Teens Are Talking Less; Texting More
Over the eight years, researchers also discovered teen cellphone use has changed significantly. For example, teens no longer ‘talk’ on cellphones; in moments leading up to a crash, they were more likely to be texting or looking down at the phone. A previous AAA Foundation survey also showed nearly 50% of teen drivers admit they read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days.
The Foundation’s most recent findings support conclusions by several other studies:
- A Pew Research Center study shows text messaging is a key component in daily teen interactions with more than half of teen drivers, sending an estimated 80 text messages daily.
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research discovered texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
- A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Survey, showed the percentage of young drivers visibly seen manipulating a hand-held device quadrupled between 2007 to 2014
AAA clubs nationally continue to lobby for strict graduated driver licensing laws and teen wireless bans. In Connecticut, the state’s Graduated Driver’s License law — one of the most effective in the nation — places restrictions on 16- and 17-year old drivers during their first driving year, limiting who they may transport during the first and second six month periods of driving. The GDL also prohibits the use of electronic equipment and sets a night curfew.
Of course, the law is only as good as the parent who insists their teen comply. AAA encourages parents to educate their teen about distracted driving dangers and monitor their actions behind the wheel by:
- Having early and frequent conversations about distraction dangers;
- Being a good driver role model; and
- Establishing a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules.
TeenDriving.AAA.com and AAA StartSmart , a website and an online program, respectively, offers various tools and resources to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. Parents should enroll teens in a professional driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. Visitwww.aaa.com/drivertraining.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 62 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York providing more than 6 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.