New research available from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety highlights a number of behaviors that young drivers are engaging in that are causing them to become distracted while behind the wheel.
While the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is typically referred to by AAA as “summer driving season,” it is instead being referred to as the “100 Deadliest Days” this year.
Between 2010 and 2014, over 5,000 people died in car crashes that involved teen drivers in the 100 days of summer.
The number of teenagers that get behind the wheel increases during the summer months, causing the amount of deaths that involve to teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 to go up by 16%, averaging close to 10 per day.
In a partnership with the University of Iowa, AAA took a closer look at teen drivers throughout the last eight years with the help of dashboard cameras. In all, over 2,200 moderate and severe collisions were documented. Throughout that time, researchers noted a change in the behavior of the teen drivers.
“They’re more likely to interact with their phones via texting or social media, which is particularly scary because they’re actually then looking down, taking their eyes off the road,” said Jennifer Ryan of AAA.
Interestingly, cell phones were not found to be the cause. Instead, other passengers accounted for 15% of teen driver accidents, while texting or talking on a cell phone made up just 12%. Passengers were found to increase the risk of a teen driver experiencing a fatal car crash by at least 44%.
“What we know about teens is that when they add a passenger, they’re more likely to be distracted, they’re more likely to engage in risky behavior,” Ryan said.
Many states currently have regulations pertaining to how many passengers a teenage driver is allowed to have in the car with them at any given time. Robert Foss, senior research scientist at the Highway Safety Research Center and director of the Center for the Study of Young Drivers, notes that 43 states do not allow newly licensed drivers to have more than one young passenger in the car with them.
According to a 2014 study that was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, loud conversations and “horseplay” were found to be a bigger risk to teen drivers than technology. Loud noises were found to create a driving environment in which teens were six times more likely to be involved in a crash, while horseplay made them three times as likely, writes Melissa Willets for Parenting.
Allan Maman, a junior in high school, created an app in an effort to help decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Safe Ride, available for Android/Google, automatically replies to any text messages received while driving with a response letting the other person know that you are driving, writes Nick Morgan for Forbes.
As a result of the study, AAA is recommending a complete ban on wireless devices for any driver under the age of 18. The recommendation is now law in 30 states.