Teens May Be More Likely to Drive Distracted

teen girl wearing sunglasses texting while driving | Teens May Be More Likely to Drive DistractedAlthough drivers of all ages are very susceptible to distracted driving behaviors, teens may be more likely to drive distracted, which is concerning when you consider that they are usually the least experienced driving population on the road. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety engaged in the most comprehensive research ever conducted regarding auto accidents among teen drivers. Video analysis of the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers found distraction a factor in nearly six out of ten teenage driver crashes which could be classified as moderate to severe. This is four times as many distracted driving crashes among teens as the prior official estimates. Distraction was a factor in nearly 90 percent of teen road-departure crashes and more than three-fourths of rear-end crashes.

Typical Teen Distractions

The most common types of distractions which resulted in a teen collision included:

  • Nearly a sixth of all teen collisions were a direct result of the teen driver interacting with other teen passengers inside the vehicle.
  • About 12 percent of the teen collisions were the result of cell phone use.
  • About 10 percent of the teen collisions were the result of the teen driver looking at something inside the vehicle, while 9 percent were the result of the teen driver looking at something outside the vehicle.
  • Listening to music, or “dancing” to the music while driving caused about 8 percent of all the teen driver collisions.
  • Grooming, including applying makeup, brushing or combing hair, and even changing clothing was responsible for about 6 percent of all crashes, and reaching for an object inside the vehicle was also responsible for about 6 percent of the teen crashes.

Male Teen Passengers More Likely to Cause Risky Driving Behaviors Than Female Teen Passengers

Colorado law allows no more than one passenger in the front seat with a new teen driver. One study published in the NCBI, found that 16-year-old drivers had a 2.28 times risk of an accident when driving alone, and a 4.72 times risk when driving with teen passengers. Interestingly, the study found that having male teen passengers in the vehicle has a significantly larger impact on risky driving behaviors than having female teen passengers. Teen drivers who have male teen passengers in the vehicle were found to be more likely to exceed the speed limit, and also more likely to tailgate.


Why are Teens More Susceptible to Distracting Driving Behaviors?

The answer to the above question can be distilled down to two words—human development. The skill known as regulatory compliance, which allows us to effectively focus on a task by controlling emotions and attention is rarely fully developed in new teen drivers.  Regulatory compliance comes from the prefrontal cortex, also known as the brain’s control center. This area develops more slowly than other parts of the brain, such as the limbic system, which controls the feelings of arousal and reward. This means when a teen driver is exposed to a “stimulant,” such as a ringing cellphone, the limbic system tends to override the prefrontal cortex, diverting the teen driver’s focus from driving.

Teen drivers who used their cell phone for texting or talking, had their eyes away from the road for an average of 4.1 seconds out of the six seconds leading up to a collision. Teens who were using a cell phone and were involved in a rear-end collision, failed to react by braking or steering more than fifty percent of the time prior to an impact. These statistics show just how important graduated driving licensing laws for new drivers really are, allowing these young drivers to gain experience while restricting their exposure to risky situations.

Contact Our Milwaukee Car Accident Lawyers

Aiken & Scoptur Injury Attorneys | Wauwatosa, WIIf you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, it is important to speak to an experienced Milwaukee car accident lawyer immediately. At Aiken & Scoptur, S.C., we work tirelessly to obtain the maximum compensation for our clients. We take all personal injury cases on contingency, so you will not pay us a fee unless we help you obtain money damages. To discuss your case with an experienced trial lawyer, call us at 414-914-2803 or contact us today. We represent clients throughout the state from offices in Wauwatosa and Wild Rose.

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