Heads Up Maryland Parents: Teen Distracted Driving Accidents Worse Than Ever

Maryland parents need to set a good example behind the wheel for their teenage sons and daughters. A new report by the AAA Foundation finds that distracted driving contributes to more serious car crashes involving teens than previously thought. Not surprisingly, cell phone use behind the wheel is among the primary causes.

CBS News reported on the AAA Foundation study, which analyzed teen car accidents caught on in-car videotape. According to the news report, the study found that distracted driving was a factor in 58 percent of moderate to severe motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers. That 58 percent is much higher than the previous government estimate of 14 percent. The video evidence is chilling.

Teen drivers caught on tape in the AAA study are so absorbed in texting and other activities, they completely take their eyes off the road — swerving into other lanes, leaving the road, and in some cases, getting in traffic accidents. The study found that teens involved in rear-end crashes did not slow down or brake at all — but drove into other vehicles at full speed.

What’s more, AAA estimates that teens are distracted a full quarter of the time that they are behind the wheel of an automobile. That should give any Maryland parent pause for thought.

And texting behind the wheel isn’t the only problem. Another major factor contributing to teen distracted-driving accidents is multiple passengers in the vehicle. Teens in the video study can also be seen talking on cell phones, eating, fiddling with music players and other devices, chatting on the phone and in the car with friends — all taking their attention off the road and leading to near-misses or collisions. (See link to AAA Foundation study below for sobering in-car videos of distracted teens behind the wheel.)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2013, of the 465 traffic accident fatalities in Maryland — 42 of the drivers involved were under age 21 (Source: NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2009 – 2013).

AAA urges all states to pass stricter laws governing teenage drivers and all cell phone use. Maryland is among the states that ban texting as a primary offense for all drivers and cell phone use for drivers under age 18 with a learner’s or provisional license as a secondary offense. Parents also have a role to play in modeling safe driving behaviors for their children. That means Maryland adults need to put down their cell phones while driving, too.

Sources:

AAA: Distracted driving a huge factor in teen driver crashes
CBSNews.com March 25, 2015

AAA Foundation — Distracted Driving