Car accidents caused by distracted teen drivers are more commonplace than originally thought, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. For the first time ever, the nonprofit organization analyzed crash videos of teenage drivers, gleaning invaluable information about what teens are doing in the seconds leading up to a serious collision. The findings show that distraction is a contributing factor in nearly 6 out of every ten crashes involving teen drivers.

The Phoenix car accident attorneys at Wattel & York are concerned by the study’s findings, but not entirely surprised. Distracted driving, especially among cell-phone addicted teens, is a growing epidemic that calls for increased safety measures and stricter legislation. Our firm has witnessed the traumatic and lifelong consequences resulting from one moment of distraction or carelessness behind the wheel, and has helped numerous clients on the road to recovery.


According to the study entitled, “Using Naturalistic Driving Data to Assess the Prevalence of Environmental Factors and Driver Behaviors in Teen Driver Crashes,” the following were the most common causes of teen distracted driving:

  • Talking with other vehicle passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Use of cell phones: 12 percent of accidents
  • Looking at an object inside the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
  • Looking outside the vehicle: 9 percent of collisions
  • Singing along or moving with music: 8 percent of crashes
  • Brushing hair/ putting on makeup: 6 percent of collisions
  • Reaching for an object: 6 percent of accidents

In this groundbreaking study, researchers analyzed 1,691 videos taken from in-vehicle event recorders that captured crucial seconds just before the accidents. The findings revealed that distraction was an element in nearly 60 percent of all car accidents involving teenage drivers.

“This video is a real awakener because you can see how oblivious these young people are to the situations outside of the car while their attention is just focused on the cell phone or other passengers,” said Utah’s AAA spokesperson, Rolayne Fairclough.

This assessment is much higher than a previous report on incidence of distracted driving among our nation’s adolescents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had earlier reported that distraction was a factor in just 14 percent of all teenage driver accidents.


Despite anti-texting legislation in many Arizona cities, teenage drivers still continue to break the law and take other’s lives into their own hands. But as the study shows, cell phones are just one of many potential distractions for this exceedingly dangerous group of drivers. Applying makeup, talking to a fellow passenger or even styling hair are all distracting elements that can lead to a fatal crash.

If someone in your family has been injured in such a crash in the Phoenix, Glendale, Tucson, or Yuma areas, you may be eligible for damages to cover medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering and emotional distress. To schedule a free case review with a distracted driver accident attorney at Wattel & York, please call our Phoenix offices today at 1-877-333-9545. We work on a contingency basis, so you never have to pay any legal fees unless you win or settle your case.

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