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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new study by AAA found that distraction driving was a factor in nearly six out of 10 moderate to severe accidents involving teenagers.

Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. The new numbers, based on comprehensive research, is more than four times than previously thought.

Using video analysis of nearly 1,700 videos of teens driving, researchers watched the six seconds that lead up to each crash.

The results showed that distraction, like talking on a cell phone, interacting with fellow passengers and more, was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied. The number includes 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes.

Click here to watch Walter Makaula’s story. 

AAA Distracted Teen Drivers (Source: AAA)

AAA Distracted Teen Drivers (Source: AAA)

Previously, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has estimated that distraction is a factor in only 14-percent of all teen driver crashes.

“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in a press release. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”

  • The most common forms of distraction, according to the AAA, that can lead up to a crash include: Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
  • Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
  • Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
  • Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes

According to AAA’s research, the most common form of distraction, at 15 percent, are teen drivers who interact with one more passengers, 12 percent of distractions come from using a cellphone, third are 10 percent of driver looking at something in the car, followed by looking at something outside the car, singing/dancing to music, grooming, and lastly is reaching for an object.

AAA recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers and also, for the first six months of driving, restrict passengers to one non-family member.

Parents, AAA said in the release, play a critical role in preventing distracted driving as they should teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use and restricting passengers.

Also, parents should create a parent-teen driving agreement that includes strict rules.

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