Distracted driving contributes to 58 percent of automobile crashes involving teen drivers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That’s four times the U.S. government estimate of 14 percent.
Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle recorders. 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 of crashes
- Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the U.S. About 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013 (the most recent year of available data). Those crashes resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.
To keep your teen safe:
- Talk to them. Driving is a serious responsibility. Discuss what it means to be a safe driver with your teen and set ground rules for when they’re behind the wheel. Limit the number of passengers they can have in the car. Remind them that drivers under the age of 18 in Kentucky are prohibited from using cell phones while driving (all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving).
- Add an app. Most of the companies that sell cellphone service – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and others – also provide apps that can limit access while driving.
- Be a role model. Set a positive example for your kids. Put your cell phone in the glove compartment every time you drive. More than half (51 percent) of parents admit their teens have asked them to slow down, stop talking or texting while driving.