Studies highlight troubling teen distracted driving habits

Studies suggest that distracted driving, including reckless behaviors such as changing clothes, may be more prominent among teens than previously believed.

Distracted driving takes a huge toll on roadway safety in Chester and other parts of Ohio. According to the Ohio State Patrol, over 31,000 distraction-related crashes occurred between 2009 and 2011 alone. More than 7,800 of these accidents caused injuries, and 74 claimed lives.

Distracted driving is dangerous at any age, but it may be especially common and catastrophic among teenagers. Teens are used to having technology constantly on hand, and they are less adept as drivers. These factors may put them at a high risk for distraction-related car accidents. New research suggests that distraction may be a more widespread issue among these young drivers than previously believed.

A common crash factor

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has previously estimated that distracted driving contributes to 14 percent of teen driver accidents. This represents roughly one in seven accidents, which is a troubling figure. However, according to The Chicago Tribune, new research indicates that over half of teen accidents may involve distraction.

In a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, researchers reviewed 1,691 dashboard camera recordings. These recordings were taken during the six seconds before teen drivers experienced car accidents in which they were at fault. The researchers found that about 60 percent of teens were distracted during the recordings, with the following distractions reported most commonly:

  • Interacting with passengers
  • Using cell phones
  • Looking at things inside the vehicle
  • Looking at things outside the vehicle

Some experts warn that these results should not be considered representative of all teenagers. Still, the general study findings point to some alarmingly common risky habits among teenage drivers.

Reckless behaviors

In another recent study, teenage drivers confessed to engaging in numerous dangerous behaviors while driving. According to National Public Radio, researchers from Oregon State University interviewed teens about their driving habits. More than one out of four teenagers admitted to changing their shoes or clothing while driving. Other risky distractions included applying makeup, switching out contact lenses and working on homework.

In Ohio, state laws address some of the most common causes of distraction-related
car accidents. Teens are banned from texting, like all other drivers. They also are limited to driving with one passenger until they reach the age of 17. Still, these laws leave room for other distracted driving behaviors, from talking on a cell phone to changing clothes. Unfortunately, many of these behaviors may be relatively common among teen drivers.

Addressing accidents

When teenage drivers engage in careless or completely reckless behaviors, they aren’t just putting their own safety at risk. The resulting accidents can also harm passengers or other road users. The victims of these accidents may have legal recourse. Anyone who has been injured because of a distracted driver’s negligence should consider seeking legal advice about pursuing compensation.

Keywords: distracted, driving, texting, accident