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Concerned about the number of teenage drivers in car accidents, AAA put
recording devices in cars being driven by teenagers, and recorded what
happened. Last week, AAA released its report,
AAA Distracted Teenage Drivers Report.pdf.

AAA installed these devices on the windshield behind the rearview mirror.
Each camera had a lens facing forward, to record what was happening on
the roadway in front of the vehicle, and a second facing the rear, designed
to record what was happening inside the car as well as what was happening
to the rear of the vehicle. The recorder also captured audio and information
about the g-forces that were at work. The recorder ran continuously, but
in a loop designed to record over the old information. If a “triggering
event” happened, however, the recorder was designed to save the
information captured in the ten seconds right before the event, and in
the ten seconds right afterwards. The device “triggered” when
the g-forces it was recording hit a significant level of forward/rearward
movement, or side-to-side (lateral) movement. The g-forces indicated that
the teenage driver had suddenly braked or crashed, or had abruptly turned.

The study was designed to look at how distracted teenage drivers were,
and how much the distraction affected them. It found that teenage girls
were more likely to be distracted than teenage boys were, and specifically
were more likely to use electronic devices while they were driving. Boys
were more likely to turn around while they were driving. The more teenagers
in the car, the more distracted the young driver became. Teen drivers
appeared especially impacted by loud talking in the car, which had a significant
correlation to a “triggering event.”

Fortunately, most of the triggering events did not result in serious car
wrecks, although .7% did result in serious incidents of some sort. The
study defined “serious incident” as a collision (there were
3 car wrecks involving teen drivers), an evasive maneuver (teen drivers
were involved in 22 evasive maneuvers), a near collision, in which another
driver averted what would have been a collision (the recorded showed 8
near collisions caused by the teen drivers), or an “other serious
incident”, which included situations in which the teenage driver
lost control of the vehicle, or in which the vehicle left the roadway
while the teenager was driving.

I am definitely interested in this report because I handle
DeKalb County car accident lawsuits, and car wreck lawsuits all around Georgia, but I also find this study
very important because my kids will soon be teenage drivers. As the mom
of two soon-to-be teenage drivers, it really disturbed me to see that,
although the study lasted just six months, during that period three teen
drivers were in car wrecks.

Almost half of the teenage drivers had what the study termed a “serious
incident” during the six months that AAA monitored the video cameras.
Three of the teenage drivers had five incidents each.

The young drivers were six times more likely to have a serious incident
when the recorders revealed there had been loud conversation in the vehicle
right before the event. The study was not able to determine whether teenagers
using electronic devices, or engaged in horseplay, had more serious driving
incidents, because “the confidence intervals were too wide.”

These statistics are very worrisome, and not just because the teenage drivers
are causing wrecks that injure or even kill others, but also because the
teenagers driving the cars or the passengers riding with the teen driver
often get personal injuries or are killed themselves.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.