As a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney and the father of teenagers, Joseph Lipsky is professionally and personally concerned about the number of car accidents associated with teenage distracted driving. While many people only associate distracted driving with cellphone and texting, many teenagers are also involved in car accidents due to distractions such as talking to passengers in their cars.
A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distractions played a role in almost sixty percent of teenager involved car accidents. The study reviewed almost 2000 videos of teenage drivers just before their being involved in a crash. Researchers were able to examine almost 7000 in vehicle cameras to obtain the study’s results. This real world access to accurate crash data found that police were actually under-evaluating the effects of distracted driving by more than forty percent.
In addition to showing hundreds of crashes, the in-vehicle videos also showed over a thousand incidents of extreme hard-braking events. The most frequent types of distracted driving included talking to passengers and cellphone use. Other types of distraction shown in the footage include motorists looking at something in their car, rather than at the roadway, dancing to music, brushing hair and reaching for something in the car.
The study proves that prior research, including by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which stated that distracted driving played a role in less than fifteen percent of teen car accidents, woefully underestimated the seriousness of this problem. Contrary to research involving older drivers, other studies demonstrate that teenage drivers with passengers are significantly more likely to have a car accident.
Partially because teenage drivers are involved in the greatest number of car accidents, almost one million last year, the AAA is pushing states for legislation which outlaws in-vehicle cellphone usage by teenage drivers. We agree that more serious legislation is need to curb the tide of teenage driver accidents and hope the Florida Legislature takes such action during this legislative session.