A quarter of all motor vehicle accidents are due to distracted driving, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the risks are even higher for teen drivers. Distracted driving refers to anytime a driver is distracted while operating a motor vehicle. Most people immediately link cell phones and distracted driving, but drivers can also be distracted by GPS systems, maps, stereos, other passengers, grooming, and countless other activities.
Teen Distractions and Motor Vehicle Accidents
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 58% of teen crashes are due to distracted drivers. This data comes from extensive analysis of 1,700 videos taken during teen accidents. Based on these videos, 89% of road departure crashes and 76% of rear-end collisions involve distractions.
In all of these accidents, the exact distraction varied, but the largest culprits were as follows:
- 15% engaging with other passengers
- 12% using cell phones
- 10% looking at something in the vehicle
- 9% looking at something outside the vehicle
- 8% singing or car dancing
- 6% grooming activities such as applying make-up or checking hair
- 6% reaching for something in the car
Teen Driving Statistics
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for teens around the world, and the United States is no exception. In 2015, 2,333 teens died behind the wheel, and another 235,845 suffered from injuries. That equates to one teen dying every four hours.
Those numbers are extremely disproportionate compared to the amount of teen drivers on the road. Although teens are only about 7 percent of the population, they account for 11 percent of the total costs related to motor vehicle accidents.
Why Teen Distractions Lead to Accidents
When a teen is driving a car, it may not seem like a big deal to quickly read a text, tell a joke to another passenger, or reach for a CD on the floor, but many of these activities have led to serious accidents or injuries. The reason why is simple — all of these activities take the drivers’ eyes off the road.
On average the teens who were analyzed in the above mentioned videos spent 4.1 seconds looking at their phones just before the accident. At 55 miles per hour, that equates to taking your eyes off the road for 331 feet. Even at just 30 miles per hour, vehicles move 44 feet per second, and taking your eyes off the road for 4 seconds is the equivalent of driving blind for 176 feet. When you compound these numbers by teens’ lack of driving experience, the results can be deadly.
How to Avoid Teen Distracted Driving
If you are a teen or a concerned parent, there are a number of steps you can take to be safer on the road and to avoid distracted driving in particular:
- Turn your phone off while driving.
- Limit the number of passengers in the car.
- Make adjustments to mirrors, stereos, etc before driving.
- Never reach for things in the car. Make sure anything you need is at hand before taking off.
- Don’t drive while tired.
- Don’t eat while driving.
- Don’t groom while driving.
- Avoid driving in the dark—a disproportionate number of teen accidents happen at night.
- Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Most importantly, be aware of the risks of distracted driving and be committed to paying attention when you are behind the wheel. When operating a motor vehicle, carve out that time just for driving. Don’t plan to do anything else while in the car. Remember, in Massachusetts, texting while driving isn’t just unsafe. It’s also illegal.
Distracted teens don’t just hurt themselves. They also hurt other drivers on the road as well as their passengers. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a distracted teen driver, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of Mazow | McCullough, PC at (978) 744-8000 or (855) 693-9084. Alternatively, request a case evaluation with our online form.