BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Distracted driving warning. A new study gives a rare glimpse to what goes on when teens take the wheel.
Amy Yensi breaks down what the report means for everybody on the road.
Traffic officials say teen drivers have the highest crash rate out of any age group. Their distraction is more severe than ever reported.
Keep your eyes on the road. Safety researchers say teens often ignore that phrase. Now a series of videos proves it.
“Their distraction is leading to a crash,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with the University of Iowa to study the behind the wheel behavior of 16 to 19-year-old drivers.
Researchers examined nearly 7,000 videos from cameras mounted in vehicles showing what drivers were doing seconds before impact and what was happening on the road.
Ragina Cooper Averella calls the study unprecedented.
“When you can actually see these videos and see the reaction and the distractions that are going right before a crash, it is really a scary situation,” she said.
Frightening and frequent. The study reveals distractions were a factor in 58 percent of crashes. Using a cell phone is behind many close calls. Looking away from the road or talking with passengers also led to collisions.
Desirae Canter, the owner of a dented car, says she usually is a safe driver.
Yensi: “How did you get that [dent]?”
Canter: “Well, like most teenagers, I was distracted. But I was not texting. I was actually reaching for ChapStick.”
Though distractions are more common for teens, the consequences impact all drivers.
“So many times you see a teenager doing this–looking up, looking up. And it only takes one second off the road to have an accident,” said driver William Higgins.
Teen drivers using cell phones had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 seconds out of the final 6 seconds leading to a crash.
The National Safety Highway Traffic Safety Administration previously estimated that distraction of all kinds is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes. The new findings are four times as high.