Paying attention to fellow riders and car devices, such as radio and GPS, and playing with smartphones are among the top distractions that lead to traffic accidents, according to a new automotive industry report.
Some form of teenage driver distraction was found in six out of 10 moderate-to-severe car crashes.
Data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report, based on a large-scale study of teenage driver crashes, reveal behavior and contributing factors leading up to a collision. The "distraction" list also includes seeing something outside a vehicle, singing and dancing while driving, reaching for an object while driving and personal grooming.
All the distractions reveal that alcohol and drugs are no longer playing top roles in teenage driving crashes, notes the report.
The top common behavior that leads to single car crashes is attending to passengers and engaging in conversation. Cell phone use is also a frequent factor and more common in road departure crashes, states the report.
"Potentially distracting behaviors in general, and cell phone use in particular, were much more prevalent in the current study than in official statistics based on police reports," states the report.
A fact sheet lists out some interesting related data points. The distractions came into play when most drivers were not in compliance with speed limits, with 79 percent driving too fast for road and weather conditions; 36 percent of drivers following another car too closely; and 43 percent failing to yield to another car.
The time of day when a crash occurred is also an important aspect, states the report, with single vehicle crashes more likely to happen at night and car-to-car crashes more likely during times of high traffic flow.
The study analyzed 1,700 videos from in-car recorders and focused on the six seconds prior to a crash.
"Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible," says AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety President and CEO Peter Kissinger.
The AAA believes traffic and driving laws need to be stiffer to stop cell phone use by teen drivers. There is also a need to enact a new law that stipulates teen drivers cannot have more than one non-family member in the car during the first six months of driving.
"This study shows how important it is for states to review their graduated driver licensing and distracted driving laws to ensure they provide as much protection as possible for teens," states AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet. "The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized."