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Videos show teens texting or talking moments before they crashed their cars

New research looked at footage of crashes.

In this frame grab from a video provided by The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a teen driver loses control of her vehicle after she was driving distracted.
In this frame grab from a video provided by The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a teen driver loses control of her vehicle after she was driving distracted.
Image: ap

DISTRACTIONS – ESPECIALLY TALKING with passengers and using mobile phones – play a far greater role in car crashes involving teen drivers than has been previously understood, according to compelling new evidence cited by safety researchers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analysed nearly 1,700 videos that capture the actions of teen drivers in the moments before a crash.

It found that distractions were a factor in nearly six of 10 moderate to severe crashes.

That’s four times the rate in many previous official estimates that were based on US police reports.

Teen Drivers Distractions In this frame grab from a video provided by The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a teen driver loses control of her vehicle after she was driving distracted. Source: ap

The study is unusual because researchers rarely have access to crash videos that clearly show what drivers were doing in the seconds before impact, as well as what was happening on the road.

Double view

AAA examined more than 6,842 videos from cameras mounted in vehicles, showing both the driver and the simultaneous view out the windshield, supplied by Lytx Inc.

Crashes or hard-braking events were captured in 1,691 of the videos.

How teens get distracted

The videos show driver distraction was a factor in 58 percent of crashes, especially accidents in which vehicles ran off the road or had rear-end collisions.

The most common forms of distraction were talking or otherwise engaging with passengers and using a cellphone, including talking, texting and reviewing messages.

Other forms of distraction observed in the videos included:

  • Drivers looking away from the road at something inside the vehicle – 10 %
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle other than the road ahead – 9%
  • Singing or moving to music – 8%
  • Grooming – 6%
  • Reaching for an object – 6%

On the phone

In one video released by AAA, a teenage boy is seen trying to navigate a turn on a rain-slicked road with one hand on the wheel and a cellphone held to his ear in the other hand.

The car crosses a lane of traffic and runs off the road, stopping just short of railroad tracks that run parallel to the road.

In another video, a driver on a lonely two-lane road at night is shown looking down at an electronic device, apparently texting.

While his eyes are off the road, the car crosses the opposite lane, leaves the road and appears about to strike a mailbox.

Teen Drivers Distractions In this frame grab from a video provided by The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a teen driver texts as his vehicle moves out of the driving lane as he drives distracted. Source: ap

One teen driver is captured braking hard at the last moment to avoid slamming into the back of an SUV stopped or slowed in traffic ahead.

Just a moment before, the girl had turned her attention to another girl in the front passenger seat in an animated conversation. The camera shows the shock on the girls’ faces as they suddenly realise a crash is imminent.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has previously estimated that distraction of all kinds is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes.

“Teen drivers are distracted”

Teen Drivers Distractions In this frame grab from a video provided by The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a teen driver loses control of her vehicle after she was driving distracted Source: ap

The videos provide “indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realised,” said Peter Kissinger, the foundation’s president and CEO.

  • Teen drivers using mobile phones had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 seconds out of the final 6 seconds leading up to a crash, the AAA study found.
  • Researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using mobile phones failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering away.

AAA and other traffic safety groups who previewed the findings said the study shows US states should review their licensing requirements to restrict the number of passengers in cars driven by teens and change their laws to prohibit cellphone use by teen drivers.

Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any age group in the US.

Read: Driving instructors will soon be allowed sit in on your test>

Read: ‘I’m doing something for my baby… I’m here for Jake’ – heartbroken mum on her Dáil sleep out>

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Associated Press

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