Crash Causes

The AAA Foundation conducted the most comprehensive eight-year research project ever conducted on crash videos of teen drivers. Here is what the study learned:

  • The risk of an accident increases during summer, in part because teens are more likely to be driving when school isn’t in session. Accidents were most likely to occur between 9 p.m. and midnight or later, in part as the result of tired driving.
  • Passengers can influence drivers and compound distractions. One peer passenger increases the risk of a crash by 30 percent. Two peer passengers doubles it, and three triples it.
  • Siblings are also an issue because they know how to push buttons. Discuss the importance of being a good passenger if your new teen driver will be the one making the commute to school with other siblings.
  • It’s little surprise that cell phone use follows passenger distraction for crash causes, but attending to or looking at something within the vehicle was nearly as likely to cause an accident (think radio, reaching for an object, or eating and drinking).
  • Teach your teen driver to keep their eyes on the road. Drivers who were distracted by their phones took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. Reaction times in rear-end crashes found teens using a cell phone failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning they crashed without ever braking or steering.
  • Teach by example. Become an in-car coach. Minimize distractions as you’re driving, and point out the safety decisions you are making as a driver (for instance, “I’m stopping at the end of this alley before I turn because there might be a pedestrian I can’t see behind that tree”).
  • The risk of a teen crash increases when the teen has exclusive access to a vehicle. It’s better to share a vehicle with a new driver for the first six months of licensure, AAA says.

For more information on teen driving: