A study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sheds light on the dangers of distracted driving, particularly by teenagers. According to the New York Times, researchers conducted the study by putting video cameras in the cars of drivers between the ages of 16 to 19, documenting 1,700 crashes. The cameras were able to show that teens were consistently distracted by their devices moments before an accident.
The research brings to light that distracted driving is more prevalent than previously reported. Distraction caused approximately 60 percent of moderate and severe crashes, four times as high as some previous government estimates. The biggest factor in crashes was teens’ interaction with a passenger, accounting for 15 percent. The second-highest risk factor was cell phones, which were involved in 12 percent. In cell phones-related crashes, drivers using their devices had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 seconds in the six seconds before a crash. The study also showed that half the time, drivers using their phones failed to react at all before rear-end crashes. Average reaction time was slowed in these rear-end crashes when they were on a phone (2.8 seconds) compared to when they were interacting with passengers (2.1 seconds).
The study adds to previous research on the nature and risks of distracted driving. The issue of distracted driving is also not isolated to teenagers to alone. Even though adults tend to have more driving experience, they are just as unable to focus on the road while operating a device.
Despite the well-known dangers of using a cellphone while driving, many continue to do so. Safety advocates say the issue stems from the widespread use of phones and the pressure that people feel to stay connected. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety advocates laws that prevent teenagers from all cellphone use while driving and limit the number of passengers “to one nonfamily member for the first six months of driving.”