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Danger of a teen distracted driver worse than previously believed

In Florida and across the country, a growing problem with teen drivers is their penchant for texting and driving. A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed almost 1,700 videos showing teens and their behavior behind the wheel right before a car accident. The study indicates that the problem is worse than previously believed. It showed that in almost 60 percent of the moderate to severe crashes, a distracted driver was a factor. The number is four times greater than the prior approximations based on law enforcement reports.

This study gave researchers a rare opportunity to see what drivers were doing right before a motor vehicle accident. Cameras that were in the vehicles showed the driver and what was happening on the road at the same time. In 1,691 of the 6,842 videos, the drivers either crashed or had to slam on the brakes to stop. A driver operating his or her vehicle while distracted was found to have occurred in 58 percent of the accidents. These were especially prevalent in rear-end accidents and vehicles driving off the road completely.

Before this study, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believed that distractions were a factor in as few as 14 percent of accidents involving teens. These videos are saying otherwise. The average time a teen driver's eyes were averted from the road when using a cellphone is 4.1 seconds out of the last 6 seconds before a car accident occurred. Overall, teens are most susceptible to being in a crash than any other age group. More than 960,000 drivers between the age of 16 and 19 had a crash that had been reported to law enforcement in 2013.

One of the worst things that can happen to a driver, a pedestrian, a bicyclist or a motorcyclist is to encounter another driver who is not paying attention. Because there are so many avenues to be distracted today, it's inevitable that these accidents will happen even with legislation taking steps to punish those who do it. A person who was injured in a crash because of a distracted driver needs to understand how to be compensated for medical costs, lost time at work and other expenses.

Source: myfoxphilly.com, "Phones, friends are distracting problem for teen drivers," Joan Lowy, accessed on March 31, 2015

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