The topic of cell phone use by teenagers behind the wheel has been covered extensively by the media, and government and public safety organizations have gone to great lengths to publicize this issue. However, distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of teen traffic accidents in New York. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety used in-dash cameras to determine that 58 percent of teen drivers involved in crashes were distracted immediately prior to their accident involvement. The highest percentage of distracted drivers involved in fatal collisions were those in the 15-19 age range.
Although distracted driving poses a significant danger of causing serious injury or death regardless of the age of the driver, inexperienced teen drivers tend to be more easily distracted and less aware of the safety risk of averting their eyes, attention, and hands from operation of a vehicle. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of certain types of distractions leading to a collision or near miss was much higher for teen drivers, including but not limited to the following:
|Activity||Increased Risk (New Teen Drivers)||Increased Risk (Older Drivers)|
|Dialing on Phone||8x higher||2x higher|
|Reaching for Object||7-8x higher||No increase|
|Texting||4x higher||No increase|
|Eating||3x higher||No increase|
A significant body of research has revealed specific distractions that are most dangerous for novice teen drivers. We have highlighted two of these distractions below:
Transporting Peers as Passengers
The increased risk associated with teens transporting peers as passengers has been so well documented that many states impose restrictions limiting or prohibiting such activity as part of their graduated driver’s license (GDL) programs. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health examined how teen driving behavior changes when transporting passengers. The authors of the study examined the impact of increased risk behavior and distraction immediately prior to crashes involving teen participants in the study. The study revealed that drivers without any teen passengers were less likely to be in a collision than those transporting peers in their vehicle. Further, more than 70 percent of male participants and 47 percent of female participants in the study who reported being distracted at the time of their crash referenced passengers as the cause of their divided attention. Multiple studies indicate that the risk of a fatal collision rises along with the number of peer passengers in a vehicle.
The results also revealed another factor contributing to the increased accident risk associated with the presence of teen passengers. Male teen drivers engaged in unlawful driving practices six times more often than those with no passengers in the vehicle. Further, the presence of passengers as peers doubled the likelihood that male teen drivers would engage in aggressive driving.
Use of Cell Phones
The National Institutes of Health (NHTSA) reports that the probability a teen driver will be involved in a collision increases by a factor of 23 times when texting and driving. Despite the danger associated with using a cell phone to text or email when driving, nearly forty percent of high school students reported engaging in this unsafe behavior during the preceding thirty days. Aside from the distraction associated with diverting a teen driver’s eyes from the road, cell phone activity decreases the amount of brain activity associated with operating a vehicle by 37 percent.
If your teenager has suffered injuries in a car accident or you have experienced injuries in a collision caused by a teen driver, an experienced New York teen driver accident attorney can evaluate your claim and advise you regarding the best way to protect your legal rights to financial compensation.
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