The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a new study documenting statistics surrounding teen driving accidents. Researchers found that from 2007 to 2015, more than 50% of all teen crashes involved some form of distracted driving.
According to LiveScience, the researchers gathered teen driver participants and placed special cameras in their vehicles. The camera would record — video and audio — for 12 seconds each time a participant was involved in an accident, slammed on their breaks, or rapidly accelerated. The camera would be able to access and record data from the accelerometer up to eight seconds before the incident and four seconds after.
The researchers reviewed more than 2,220 accidents by looking at the driver’s behavior during the six seconds before each incident.
Wholly 59% of all accidents involved the driver being distracted moments before the accident. The government’s official statistics on distracted driving — based on police reports — is about four times less than these metrics for teen drivers.
“Many teens are texting or using social media behind the wheel more often than in past, which is making an unsafe situation even worse,” said Jennifer Ryan, the AAA director of state relations.
Cell phones are the reason for a distracted driving accident in about 12% of the incidents, which is the second highest according to the study.
The number one distraction for teen drivers is having another passenger in the car.
CBS News reports that 15% of teen driver accidents are caused by a distraction stemming from another passenger in the vehicle.
“What we know about teens is that when they add a passenger, they’re more likely to be distracted,” Ryan added. “They’re more likely to engage in risky behavior.”
Other risk factors can increase the likelihood of a crash. For instance, the younger the driver, the more likely they are to get into an accident, and at nighttime, the fatal crash rate for 16-year-old drivers is nearly twice as high as it is for daytime driving.
“The best way that I can honor my sisters,” said Toron Woolridge, whose two sisters died in March from a distracted driving crash, “the best way I know possible is to talk to youth and talk to parents and help them to understand what could happen.”