Study: Driving distractions are a common factor in teen driver accidents

Based on the findings of a recent study, distractions may be a common contributor to serious crashes involving teen drivers.

Distractions are a problem that plagues motorists throughout Connecticut, and elsewhere. In fact, Distraction.gov reported that approximately 424,000 people were injured, and more than 3,100 were killed, in distraction-related accidents in 2013 alone. Such behaviors may be hazardous for drivers of all ages. However, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distractions may be particularly dangerous for teen drivers.

Common distractions drivers face

Any behavior that diverts someone's attention from the task of driving may be considered a distraction. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are three general types of distractions - manual, visual and cognitive. Manual and visual distractions involve behaviors that take drivers' hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. Cognitive distractions, on the other hand, are those that take a motorist's mind off the task of driving. Some of the most common distractions include talking on cellphones, text messaging, eating, drinking or interacting with passengers.

Studying the prevalence of teenage distracted driving crashes

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted a study to examine the prevalence of distracted driving accidents involving teenage motorists. For the study, researchers examined the crash data from in-vehicle event recorders for collisions that involved drivers between the ages of 16 and 19-years-old. They looked at 6,842 videos, 1,691 of which met their inclusion criteria.

The researchers studied the videos for the six seconds leading up to an accident and then coded them for analysis. The data elements that they coded included contributing circumstances, driver and passenger behaviors, and environmental conditions.

Study finds teens at risk for distraction-related accidents

Based on the study's findings, distracted driving is a serious issue among teenage motorists. The researchers found that the drivers were engaged in distracting behaviors in the moments leading up to the accident in 58 percent of the collisions studied. Interactions with passengers and cellphone use were two of the most frequently observed distractions in the study. In the rear-end crashes that they examined, the researchers noted that the drivers who were using cell phones had slower reaction times than those who were not engaged in distracting behaviors. Thus, distracted driving may increase the risk of collisions for teenage motorists.

Working with an attorney

When people are involved in distracted driving accidents with teenage drivers in Connecticut, they or their passengers may be seriously injured. As a result, they may require medical care and time to recover, which may lead to undue medical costs and lost wages. Those who have experienced such situations may benefit from seeking legal guidance. An attorney may help them to understand their rights and options for pursuing financial compensation for the damages they have suffered.