SALT LAKE CITY -- During a new study, AAA gathered about 1,700 videos of teens driving that shows both what the driver is doing and what the driver sees, and the researchers found that distracted driving is a major factor in teen crashes.
AAA filmed the footage after families agreed to have cameras mounted inside their cars. One camera was pointed at the driver and the other shows the driver's view. Researchers watched nearly 1,700 videos of teens driving, paying close attention to the six seconds leading up to each crash.
“It’s shocking, I mean this is the stuff we see out on the road every day, but it's caught on tape here for everyone to see,” said John Gleason, who is a Utah Department of Transportation spokesman.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimated distraction to be a factor in only 14 percent of all teen crashes, but according to the findings of this study from AAA, the number is 58 percent.
“This video is a real awakener because you can see how oblivious these young people are to the situations outside of the car while their attention is just focused on the cell phone or other passengers,” said Rolayne Fairclough, spokesperson for AAA Utah.
Distractions leading to the crashes included talking to passengers, putting on makeup and using phones.
“It’s really the world that we live in today; so many of us teens and adults alike are addicted to our cell phones, and it's really difficult to put them down even when we're driving--but that's when it makes the most sense to put them down,” Gleason said.
Fairclough said change is needed.
“We need to have parents, schools, and the teens engaged to make them safer drivers” she said.
Most of what these drivers were doing behind the wheel is illegal in Utah. Manipulating your cell phone while driving is against the law, no matter how old you are. And Utah’s Graduated Licensing Laws restrict teens from having friends in the car for the first six months after getting their license.
Click here for more information about the ways parents can educate teens about driving safely.