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Driving Distractions More Prevalent Factor Than Previously Recognized in Teen Crashes

While most parents recognize that distracted drivers constitute a significant cause of many fatal teen collisions, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests the problem is even worse than previously suspected.  The recently published study based on an analysis of actual crash video footage from 1,700 teen crashes reveals that distractions are a factor in almost 60 percent (58 percent) of all moderate-to-severe collisions involving teenage drivers.  Although distractions have long been considered a significant cause of teen driving fatalities, previous National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates postulated about 14 percent of teen car accidents were linked to driving distractions.

The study has been lauded as the most comprehensive study ever done that examines the relationship between teen driving accidents and distracted driving practices.  The research was conducted by evaluating six seconds of video footage from data event recorders in vehicles driven by teens involved in crashes.  This emerging technology also provided other significant information about teen distracted driving.  Distractions constituted a factor in 89 percent of road-departure collisions while distracted driving contributed to 76 percent of rear-impact collisions

Types of Driving Distractions Causing Teen Traffic Accidents

The varied types of distractions included the following:

Type of Distraction                                                                             Percentage of Crashes

Conversation with Passengers                                                                        15 percent

Use of a mobile phone                                                                                    12 percent

Locating objects inside the vehicle                                                                 10 percent

Gyrating or singing along with music                                                             8 percent

Personal grooming (e.g., applying makeup, shaving, brushing hair)               6 percent

Trying to grab an item                                                                                     6 percent

This study provides valuable teen driving information that can guide policymakers in making our state safer for teen drivers and others with whom teens share Florida roadways.  The study revealed that teen drivers manipulating or using a cell phone in some fashion diverted their eyes from the roadway for an average of longer than 4 seconds.  The researchers also found that over half of the time teen drivers were involved in rear-end crashes while multi-tasking, the teens made no effort to steer or brake prior to the moment of impact.

Lessons for Policymakers in Charge of Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) Programs

An important objective of the research was to provide guidance to states in updating their graduated driver’s license programs based on real world teen driving behavior.  The statute offers significant guidance for the Florida legislature.  GDL programs grant driver’s licenses in stages, so novice teen drivers are granted increasing privileges based on experience behind the wheel and the maturity that theoretically accompanies aging.

While all states limit drivers with a learner’s permit, GDL programs involve issuing “restricted driver’s licenses” (also called “provisional driver’s licenses”) that place certain restrictions on newly licensed teen drivers.

Many states prohibit any use of a cell phone by teen drivers and restrict the transport of teen passengers with an intermediate license because these have long been thought to be the leading causes of distracted teen driving.  This current study reaffirms this conclusion given that more than 25 percent of teen distracted driving crashes involve one of these two forms of distraction.  Although Florida law has a universal ban on text messaging while driving regardless of age, all other uses of cell phones, which include making phone calls and posting on Facebook, are not prohibited practices even for teen drivers.

Florida law only limits driving during certain nighttime hours, but this research suggests that cell phone and passenger restrictions might also save lives.  Another important finding for teens is the prevalence of other driving distractions.  Extensive public awareness campaigns have helped educate teens about cell phone use behind the wheel, but there might be fewer teens that even consider traditional distractions like putting on lipstick, looking for a textbook, or reaching for a beverage as a form of distracted driving.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Teen Distracted Driving Accident Injuries and Deaths

If you or a family member has been injured in a collision caused by a distracted driver, our Florida Teen Accident Injury Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.





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