Distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of a car crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distractions were reported in 20 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of fatal accidents in 2009. A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety set out to determine what distracts new teen drivers most. Electronic devices easily took the top spot, but other behaviors were prevalent as well.
The researchers installed in-car cameras in the vehicles of new drivers and found teens using cell phones or other handheld devices in 7 percent of the analyzed footage. Other behaviors, such as playing with the radio, eating and drinking were noted in 15 percent of the videos.
"Cell phones, texting, personal grooming and reaching for things in the car were among the most common distracting activities found when cameras were put in new teen drivers' cars," said AAA Foundation president and CEO Peter Kissinger. "This new study provides the best view we've had about how and when teens engage in distracted driving behaviors believed to contribute to making car crashes the leading cause of death for teenagers."
Distracted driving is not the only factor that can increase the risk of a crash. A vehicle that runs poorly or needs car maintenance like oil changes or tire rotation also ups the odds of a car accident.