What happens in the 6 seconds before a teen driver crash?

by Sharlyn Petit
We know teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. We’re used to hearing stories of inexperience, distractions, and speeding as the reasons behind teen crashes. But what actually happens in the moments before a crash?
   A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety set out to find which environmental factors and driver behaviors contribute to teen crashes – and specifically, what happens in the 6 seconds before a crash. AAA did it with the help of in-vehicle video recording.
   Researchers analyzed crash data collected from in-vehicle videos of 1,691 crashes by teen driver participants between 2007 and 2013. AAA’s key findings reveal what factors contributed to major crashes:

  • In 79% of crashes, the driver was going too fast for conditions.
  • In 58% of crashes, the driver was inattentive or engaged in a non-driving activity.
  • In 36% of crashes, passengers were present.
  • In 12% of crashes, a cell phone was used.
  • In 66% of crashes, wrong decisions were involved (such as failing to yield or running stop signs).

   The study also showed that drivers operating cell phones looked away from the roadway an average of 4.1 seconds out of the final 6 seconds preceding a crash.
   While the findings echo what other studies have found, AAA’s approach in analyzing in-vehicle videos helps fill in some missing details teens may have left out of their narration of events. No, Mom, of course I wasn’t textingDistracted? Never! My eyes are always on the road.…
   Access the full report here.

by  Jon Osterberg

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