A new study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) in Blacksburg, VA, and the National Institutes of Child Health shows that teen driving gets worse when they’re not focused. As teen drivers get more comfortable with their driving, they begin to perform more and more secondary, distracting tasks. The new study was reported in the January 2014 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Young drivers (those between 15 and 20 years of age) are only 6.4% of all drivers. Yet, they cause 11.4 % of all vehicle fatalities and 14% of the car accidents with injuries that get reported to the police.
The study examined two groups of people. In one group were experienced drivers between 18 and 72 with an average of 20 years driving experience. In the second group were teens who had just started driving when the study began. The study lasted 18 months. VTTI equipped the vehicles with data systems that included four cameras and sensors that recorded the drivers’ performance. The videos were then studied for any distracting tasks while a crash or near-crash occurred. A task was considered “distracting” if it happened within five seconds before the crash/near-crash or one second after. Only crashes or near-crashes where the driver was at fault were analyzed. Distractions were defined as any task that takes the driver’s eyes off the road so they can’t see basic actions like when a car ahead is slowing down or a new car, person, or object has entered the roadway.
During the first 6 months, the novice drivers engaged in distracting tasks less often than the experienced drivers. During months 7 to 15, they were distracted at the same rate as the experienced drivers. During the last 3 months, the younger drivers were districted twice as much as the experienced drivers. The study also showed that, for cellphone use, it was the dialing that caused the most accidents (for both new and experienced drivers) rather than talking on the phone.
Many states, like Virginia and North Carolina, are now trying to figure out the best ways to limit distractions behind the wheel. VTTI conducts many studies and other research to help solve transportation problems.
If you’ve been hurt by a distracted driver, Norfolk attorney Joe Miller has the experience to help you, as he’s represented thousands of clients over the past 25 years. To learn more about how he can help you following an accident, contact Joe Miller Law, Ltd., today by calling (888) 694-1671.