Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
By this time, most everyone realizes that distracted driving is inherently dangerous. Many people even acknowledge that teen drivers are the most likely offenders. Today, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released their comprehensive research of crash videos of teen drivers. According to the 1700 in-vehicle crash videos of the six seconds leading up to a crash that were analyzed by researchers, distraction was a much greater factor than previously estimated from police reports. NHTSA previously estimated that 14% of all teen driver crashes were attributable to distraction. The results of the AAA Foundation analysis of the crash videos showed that distraction was a factor in 58% of all crashes studied, including 89% of road-departure crashes and 76% of rear-ear crashes.
“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,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”
The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:
- “Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
- Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
- Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
- Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
- Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
- Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
- Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes”
“Researchers found that drivers manipulating their cell phone (includes calling, texting or other uses), had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using a cell phone failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering.”
Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any other group in the country. In 2013, police-reported crashes indicated that about 963,000 drivers aged 16-19 were involved in crashes, resulting in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.
Most states now have graduated driver licensing (GDL) requirements as well as cell phone use and passenger restrictions for teen drivers. In addition, parents need to set strict ground rules for teen drivers relating to distraction.
As I have previously stated and continue to believe, while it may be convenient to convince yourself that multi-tasking is not so difficult, driving should never be mixed with any other activity. Every year I give presentations to area schools about distracted driving in an effort to teach young people the importance of driving carefully and to empower them to be sure they do not allow others to drive while distracted, at least not while they are in the car.
If you, your child’s PTSA, or your child’s school would like to know more about my presentation, please contact me. I of course do not charge a fee for my presentation, as it is part of my volunteer community service program.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”. Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best-most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) – national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.