AAA: What Happens Behind the Wheel When Teens Drive
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens. So the AAA Foundation looked at six years worth of videos shot inside teenagers cars to try to determine what's going on.
AAA has released a new study showing distraction is a factor in 58 percent of all teenage driver crashes. That's four times higher than a previous government estimate. The study shows teens using cellphones take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 seconds in the six seconds before an accident.
"One of the things that is not intuitive to a teenager is when they do take their eyes of the road, they need to bring them right back," said the foundation’s president, Peter Kissinger.
The other main distraction for a teen behind the wheel - talking to passengers.
"If you add a second passenger, second teenager to a teen driver, it automatically doubles the risk of that person being in a crash," Kissinger said.
Thirty-three states already have laws banning cellphone use. About half as many states are restricting who rides in the car with a teen driver, but officials say they need help enforcing safe driving.
"State laws are important, but they're not a magic bullet,” said Jonathan Adkins with the Governors Highway Safety Association. “This goes back to parents having some responsibility."
Adkins’ group, along with AAA, is asking states to adopt graduated drivers licenses that grant teens more driving privileges as they gain experience on the road.
Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any age group.
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