Young woman writing sms while driving - Photo copyright: dmitrimaruta

Why Teens are Most Prone to Distracted Driving

Teenage drivers are most prone to distracted driving-related crashes. This is commonly due to their affinity and avid use of cell phones and other technologies, and because they are inexperienced drivers, and are still developing and maturing their decision-making and risk management skills.

Thanks to the wide presence, and influence of personalized technologies, some distracted driver behaviors become common among teenage drivers. These include use of electronic devices, followed by adjusting controls in car, eating or drinking, and personal grooming.

A study by the Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teenage drivers pose the highest crash rates in all of US. Some of its salient findings show that distracted driving behavior was affected by various factors including the number of passengers, their type and age.

Key Finding – Causes of Teenage Distracted Behavior

The study found that in case of teens, the biggest factor was the use of electronic devices especially when there were no passengers and least common when a partner or other adult was present. Teenage drivers were 60% less likely to use the devices when another peer was present. Loud conversations and horseplay behavior were common occurrence when multiple teenage peers were in the vehicle.

Prime Cause of Accidents – Looking Away

Looking away from the road is the leading cause of near collisions, fatal road crashes, hard breaking, and swerving. Distracted behavior in teenagers, on average, caused them to look away for 2 seconds.

Given that a car traveling at 65 mph can cover nearly 2/3 of a football field, such distractions can prove disastrous for every passenger.

Behaviors to be Aware of

The two common behaviors that must be avoided include:

Use of Electronic Devices – The study found that teenagers using electronic devices such as smartphones, were three times more likely to look away. Comparing talking and texting, the study stated that nearly twice as many teens were operating an electronic device for texting instead of talking. The study analyze 7,858 clips that were automatically recorded when a pre-set g-force was exceeded by a vehicle. 7 % occurred due to use of electronics alone.

Horseplay – Drivers were two and a half times more likely to look away for 2 seconds and more when horseplay was involved with other passengers. It was found that teens engaged in several distracting behaviors in 15.1% of video clips. This included adjusting controls (6.2% ), personal grooming (3.8%), and eating or drinking (2.8%).

Both of these, when combined made drivers 6 times more likely to be in serious accidents, near collisions, and hard breaking and swerving.

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