AAA re­veals top driv­ing dis­trac­tions for teens as ‘100 Dead­li­est Days’ be­gin

The Calvert Recorder - Southern Maryland Automotive Trends - - News -

Over the past five years, more than 5,000 peo­ple have been killed in crashes in­volv­ing teen driv­ers dur­ing the “100 Dead­li­est Days,” the pe­riod start­ing at Memo­rial Day when teen crash deaths his­tor­i­cally climb.

As the sum­mer driv­ing sea­son be­gins, the AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safety has re­leased a fol­low-up study con­firm­ing that nearly 60 per­cent of teen crashes in­volve dis­trac­tions be­hind the wheel. The re­search also finds a dis­turb­ing trend show­ing that tex­ting and so­cial me­dia use are on the rise amongst teen driv­ers.

Crashes for teen driv­ers in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing the sum­mer months be­cause teens drive more dur­ing this time of year. Over the past five years dur­ing the “100 Dead­li­est Days”:

• An av­er­age of 1,022 peo­ple died each year in crashes in­volv­ing teen driv­ers

• The av­er­age num­ber of deaths from crashes in­volv­ing teen driv­ers ages 16-19 in­creased by 16 per­cent per day com­pared to other days of the year

This year’s new fol­low-up re­port from the AAA Foun­da­tion is part of the most com­pre­hen­sive eight-year re­search pro­ject ever con­ducted into crash videos of teen driv­ers. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Iowa, the AAA Foun­da­tion an­a­lyzed the mo­ments lead­ing up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos cap­tured from in-car dash cam­eras. The lat­est re­port com­pared new crash videos with those cap­tured from 2007-2012 and found con­sis­tent trends in the top three dis­trac­tions for teens when be­hind the wheel in the mo­ments lead­ing up to a crash:

• Talk­ing or at­tend­ing to other pas­sen­gers in the ve­hi­cle: 15 per­cent of crashes

• Talk­ing, tex­ting or op­er­at­ing a cell phone: 12 per­cent of crashes

• At­tend­ing to or look­ing at some­thing in­side the ve­hi­cle: 11 per­cent of crashes

“Ev­ery day dur­ing the sum­mer driv­ing sea­son, an av­er­age of 10 peo­ple die as a re­sult of in­juries from a crash in­volv­ing a teen driver” said Jurek Grabowski, re­search di­rec­tor for the AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safety. “This new re­search shows that dis­trac­tion con­tin­ues to be one of the lead­ing causes of crashes for teen driv­ers. By bet­ter un­der­stand­ing how teens are dis­tracted on the road, we can bet­ter pre­vent deaths through­out the 100 Dead­li­est Days and the rest of the year.”

Re­searchers also found that how teens use their cell phone when be­hind the wheel changed sig­nif­i­cantly over the course of the study. In the mo­ments lead­ing up to a crash, teens were more likely to be tex­ting or look­ing down at the phone than talk­ing on it. This sup­ports find­ings by Pew Re­search Cen­ter, which shows text mes­sag­ing has be­come a key com­po­nent in day-to-day in­ter­ac­tions amongst teenagers. Fifty-five per­cent of teens spend time ev­ery day tex­ting, send­ing an es­ti­mated 80 text mes­sages per day.

“It’s no se­cret that teens are ex­tremely con­nected to their cell phones,” said Jen­nifer Ryan, AAA di­rec­tor of state re­la­tions. “Many teens are tex­ting or us­ing so­cial me­dia be­hind the wheel more of­ten than in the past, which is mak­ing an un­safe sit­u­a­tion even worse.”

Re­search by the Vir­ginia Tech Trans­porta­tion In­sti­tute found that tex­ting cre­ates a crash risk 23 times worse than driv­ing while not dis­tracted. A re­cent AAA Foun­da­tion sur­vey shows that nearly 50 per­cent of teen driv­ers ad­mit­ted they had read a text mes­sage or email while driv­ing in the past 30 days. NHTSA’s National Occupant Pro­tec­tion Use Sur­vey also shows that from 2007 to 2014, the per­cent­age of young driv­ers seen vis­i­bly ma­nip­u­lat­ing a hand-held de­vice quadru­pled.

“Nearly two-thirds of peo­ple in­jured or killed in crashes in­volv­ing a teen driver are peo­ple other than the teen them­selves,” Ryan said. “This shows that teen driv­ers can be a risk to every­one on the road and it is im­por­tant to reg­u­late their ac­tions when be­hind the wheel.”

Keep­ing cell phones out of the hands of teen driv­ers is a top pri­or­ity for AAA. The as­so­ci­a­tion’s ad­vo­cacy ef­forts are help­ing to pro­tect teens by work­ing to pass grad­u­ated driver li­cens­ing laws and teen wire­less bans in states across the coun­try.

In prepa­ra­tion for the “100 Dead­li­est Days,” AAA en­cour­ages par­ents to ed­u­cate their teen about the dangers of dis­tracted driv­ing and mon­i­tor their ac­tions be­hind the wheel. Par­ents should:

• Have con­ver­sa­tions early and of­ten about the dangers of dis­trac­tion.

• Make a par­ent-teen driv­ing agree­ment that sets fam­ily rules against dis­tracted driv­ing.

• Teach by ex­am­ple and min­i­mize dis­trac­tions when driv­ing.

TeenDriv­ing. AAA. com has a va­ri­ety of tools to help pre­pare par­ents and teens for the dan­ger­ous sum­mer driv­ing sea­son. The on­line AAA StartS­mart pro­gram also of­fers great re­sources for par­ents on how to be­come ef­fec­tive in-car coaches as well as ad­vice on how to man­age their teen’s over­all driv­ing priv­i­leges. Teens pre­par­ing for the re­spon­si­bil­ity of driv­ing should en­roll in a driver ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram that teaches how to avoid driver dis­trac­tion and other safety skills.

Es­tab­lished by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, pub­licly-sup­ported char­i­ta­ble re­search and ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion. Dedicated to sav­ing lives and re­duc­ing in­juries on our roads, the Foun­da­tion’s mission is to pre­vent crashes and save lives through re­search and ed­u­ca­tion about traf­fic safety. The Foun­da­tion has funded over 300 re­search projects de­signed to dis­cover the causes of traf­fic crashes, pre­vent them and min­i­mize in­juries when they do oc­cur. Go to www. AAAFoun­da­tion.org for more in­for­ma­tion on this and other re­search.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF AAA

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