It has long been known that cellphones, passengers, and other distractions contribute to many crashes involving teen drivers. Two studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, however, have found that the problem may be bigger than once thought. In one study, after carefully analyzing more than 2,200 videos recorded by in-vehicle cameras, AAA determined that distractions contributed to nearly 6 in 10 teen crashes—four times what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration previously estimated. In a separate study of crash rate data, AAA determined that drivers age 16 to 17 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than adult drivers.
These findings are especially concerning during the “100 Deadliest Days” of the year for U.S. teen drivers, which begin on Memorial Day. Average deaths from crashes involving teen drivers increase 14 percent during this period compared to the rest of the year, since teens drive more in the summer. As distraction is a leading cause of teen crashes, understanding the distractions teens face and how they can avoid them is key to helping make summer travel safer.