Over the past five years, more than 5,000 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period starting Memorial Day when teen crash deaths historically climb.
As the summer driving season begins, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is releasing a follow-up study confirming that nearly 60% of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel. The research also finds a disturbing trend showing that texting and social media use are on the rise amongst teen drivers.
Crashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer months because teens drive more during this time of year. Over the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days:”
* An average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers.
* The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 16-19 increased by 16% per day compared to other days of the year.
This year’s new follow-up report from the AAA Foundation is part of the most comprehensive eight-year research project ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers.
In collaboration with researchers at the University of Iowa, the AAA Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos captured from in-car dash cameras. The latest report compared new crash videos with those captured from 2007 -2012 and found consistent trends in the top three distractions for teens when behind the wheel in the moments leading up to a crash:
* Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle: 15% of crashes.
* Talking, texting or operating a cell phone: 12% of crashes.
* Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: 11% of crashes.
Researchers also found that how teens use their cell phone when behind the wheel changed significantly over the course of the study. In the moments leading up to a crash, teens were more likely to be texting or looking down at the phone than talking on it.
This supports findings by Pew Research Center, which shows text messaging has become a key component in day-to-day interactions amongst teenagers.
Most teens send 80 text messages a day
The findings show that 55% of teens spend time every day texting, sending an estimated 80 text messages per day. Research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. A recent AAA Foundation survey shows that nearly 50% of teen drivers admitted they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days.
Keeping cell phones out of the hands of teen drivers is a top priority for AAA. The association’s advocacy efforts are helping to protect teens by working to pass graduated driver licensing laws and teen wireless bans in states across the country.
In preparation for the “100 Deadliest Days,” AAA encourages parents to educate their teen about the dangers of distracted driving and monitor their actions behind the wheel.
AAA offers variety of tools
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.