Teen drivers engaged in distracting behaviors in 6 out of ten (58%) motor vehicle crashes, according to a recent crash analysis conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety1. The analysis examined in-vehicle recordings of teen drivers and revealed the most frequent types of distraction that occurred prior to crashes. Interacting with passengers was the most frequent behavior that occurred prior to crashes (15 percent of all crashes). Cellphone use occurred in 12 percent of all crashes, followed by attending to something inside the car (10% of all crashes), attending to something outside other than the road ahead (9%), singing or moving to music (8%), grooming (6%) and reaching for something (6%).

It’s Not Just Teens – Adults Drive Distracted Too

In a nationwide survey, most adults and teens reported regularly engaging in distracted driving behavior:

    • 87% of adults said that they do at least one distracting activity EVERY time they drive.2
    • 92% of teens said that they do at least one distracting activity EVERY time they drive. 3
The average text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s long enough to travel the length of a football field!

The top behaviors reported were:

      • Looking for something in the vehicle
      • Eating or drinking something
      • Using an electronic device for music
      • Dealing with passengers
      • Talked on cell phone at least once per trip
      • Texted at least once per trip

In studies that used cameras to observe drivers:

    • Adults that looked away from the road for 2 seconds or longer were 2 times more likely to crash or nearly crash.4
    • Teens that looked away from the road for 2 seconds or longer were almost 4 times more likely to crash or nearly crash.5

Teens see their parents’ distracted driving behavior and it influences their own distracted driving behavior:3

Texting isn’t the only distraction. Anything that takes eyes, hands, or focus off the road is a distraction. This is true for all drivers!
Most states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for all drivers.
          • Teens reported that their parents participated in distracted driving behavior more often than themselves
          • Teens who thought their parents did distracted driving more often, did distracted driving more often themselves
          • Teens’ whose parents reported doing distracted driving more often, did distracted driving more often themselves

 


Footnotes

1C Carney, D McGehee, K Harland, M Weiss, M Raby. Using Naturalistic Driving Data to Assess the Prevalence of Environmental Factors and Driver Behaviors in Teen Driver Crashes. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Washington, DC. www.aaafoundation.org, March 2015.

2UMTRI, unpublished data from the UMTRI-Toyota Teen Driving Survey

3PM Carter, CR Bingham, JS Zakrajsek, JT Shope, TB Sayer.  Social norms and risk perception: Predictors of distracted driving behavior among novice adolescent drivers.  Journal of Adolescent Health, 54:S32-S41, 2014.

4SG Klauer, F Guo, BG Simons-Morton, MC Ouimet, SE Lee, TA Dingus.  Distracted driving and risk of road crashes among novice and experienced drivers. New England Journal of Medicine, 370:54-59, 2014.

5BG Simons-Morton, F Guo, SG Klauer, JP Ehsani, AK Pradhan. Keep your eyes on the road: Young driver crash risk increases according to duration of distraction.  Journal of Adolescent Health, 54:S61-S67, 2014.