Distracted Driving among Teens: What We Know about It and How to Prevent It


Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and over 1,000 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. (1) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that  in 2015 “Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.” (2) According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distraction was a factor in 58 percent of 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. (3) Distracted driving includes activities such as using a cell phone, texting, and eating while driving. Using in-vehicle technologies like navigation systems or stereos, can also be a source of distraction. Engaging in any of these activities while driving poses a crash risk, endangering the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, as well as other drivers. (2) 

In this webinar, Dr. Ian Reagan of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) explained what IIHS knows about distracted driving as a contributing factor in traffic collisions, contrasting teenage and older drivers throughout to underscore teens’ over-representation in these crashes. He addressed the prevalence of distraction in police-reported crash data and the suspect quality of these data.  His presentation concluded with a summary of research about the prevalence and crash risk of specific distracted driving behaviors identified in observational studies. Dr. Dennis Thomas of Dunlap and Associates, Inc. reviewed recent research studies that explored higher order skill development in teen drivers to increase their safety on the roadway. These studies all involved training young drivers to either better manage their glances at the roadway or anticipate hazards. The results focus on behavioral changes observed on live roadways or through analyses of crashes after exposure to the training.  


1.    National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2017, March). Distracted Driving 2015. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 812 381). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

2.    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Facts and Statistics. [cited 2016 Feb 23]; Available from: http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html.

3.    Distraction and Teen Crashes: Even Worse than We Thought. (March 25, 2015).  AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. http://newsroom.aaa.com/2015/03/distraction-teen-crashes-even-worse-tho…;

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