In 2015, an AAA study revealed that the majority of auto accidents with teen drivers identified as the at-fault party were caused by distracted driving, primarily texting and driving, though talking on the phone and being distracted by drivers were also among the causes. In fact, nearly 60% of all teen driver auto accidents (from a study involving 1,700 auto accidents with video footage) resulted from some form of driver distraction.
The researchers pointed out that having access to auto accident video footage allows for greater insight into the causes of collisions, improving the quality of research and evidence in their studies. In fact, the data is clearer and less open to argument than any auto accident studies conducted since the AAA research and education group began in 1947.
To illustrate the benefit of video footage in revealing the causes of auto accidents like this, let’s compare the AAA data to the estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which reported that roughly 14% of all teen driver accidents occurred because of distracted driving behaviors. It is difficult to accurately estimate something like this until you have video footage to show the reality of the situation.
The video footage also allowed the researchers to learn more about these accidents, such as how many involved off road collisions and how many resulted in rear end collisions. You might imagine that rear end collisions would be most common, because it is easy to picture someone failing to notice that someone stopped in front of them when distracted. While this is a very common occurrence, with 76% of the distracted driving accidents being rear end collisions, it was more common for those accidents to end up off road, with 89% falling into this category.
The research was further able to discern which forms of distracted driving caused the most auto accidents with teen drivers, including such factors as texting, passenger distractions, grooming, various distractions outside of and inside of the vehicle, and even the distraction of singing and dancing. All of these behaviors were visible on the video footage.
This data showed that behaviors like texting and driving, using social media, and talking on the phone were responsible for just 12% of teen driver distracted driving auto accidents, and was not actually the number one cause, as previously suspected. Rather, it was the second most frequent cause of accidents, with the number one cause being passenger distractions at 15%. The potential for passenger distractions is the reason that teen drivers are not allowed to have more than one non-family passenger within the first six months of being licensed drivers.
A further 10% of distracted driving teen driver auto accidents were caused by dropping something or searching for something inside of the car. Distractions from outside of the vehicle caused 9% of these accidents, and singing and dancing caused 8%. Finally, grooming behaviors, such as fixing hair or applying makeup, were responsible for 6% of the accidents. When it came to the use of cell phones in distracted driving auto accidents, the data looked at the behavior of the teen drivers within the six seconds prior to the accidents, and revealed that the driver’s eyes were on their phone, rather than the road, for more than four of those seconds.
Are We Preventing Distracted Driving Auto Accidents By Educating Teens Drivers?
To prevent distracted driving auto accidents in South Carolina and throughout the US, there have been a number of educational initiatives to ensure that all drivers are fully aware of the risks associated with behaviors like texting and driving. These initiatives make a point of clarifying the fact that it is just as dangerous to text and drive as it is to drive drunk.
Unfortunately, the texting and driving auto accidents that still occur are not a result of being uneducated about the risks. The vast majority of individuals who cause such accidents knew exactly what the risks were and chose to do it anyway. Including adults and teenagers, nearly all drivers know the risks, with a 2015 survey showing that 98% were fully informed on this subject, truly understood the dangers, and yet continued to text and drive. Even in cases where the parents instructed teens to avoid this behavior, there was no marked difference.
Keeping in mind that 98% of all drivers know the risks associated with texting and driving, the 2015 study found 55% of teen drivers expressing that it was easy to text while driving, and nearly 35% admitted to having done so. Nearly 50% revealed that their parents would talk on the phone or text and drive even though they would tell their children not to.
It is important for parents to not only educate their children and set rules about texting and driving, but to also model the behavior that they preach. To illustrate how necessary it is for parents of teen drivers to everything they can to promote safe driving behavior, every year, more than three thousand teens are killed in auto accidents that were caused by texting and driving. In some cases, the texts were from a parent. Even teens who have taken AT&T’s ‘It Can Wait’ Pledge are at risk of forgetting to live by it. This is partially because of the temptation that anyone would feel when they hear a text come through, to see what it’s about and respond.
Were You Injured in a South Carolina Distracted Driving Auto Accident?
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a distracted driving auto accident in South Carolina, contact the dedicated South Carolina car crash lawyers at the David Aylor Law Offices to find out how you can seek justice and recover compensation for your injuries and losses. We know how devastating an auto accident can be, and how upsetting it is to know that your accident was caused by someone who was fully aware of the risks of distracted driving and chose to put you and others at risk, anyway. We can help you to recover compensation for your injuries, your lost wages, your pain and suffering, and potentially punitive damages, as well.
If you have not seen the devastating effects of a distracted driving auto accident, yourself, then you should make every effort to ensure that you never do. Educate your teen drivers, model the safest behavior for your own safety and for others, and drive defensively, keeping an eye out for drivers who don’t seem to be paying attention to the road.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.