Studies suggest teen distracted driving is dangerously common in Ohio

Recent research suggests that over half of teen accidents may involve distracted driving habits, such as cellphone use, grooming and changing clothes.

Driver distraction contributes to an average of 9 deaths and 1,153 injuries every day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This habit is especially common among teenagers. These drivers are involved in more fatal distraction-related crashes than drivers of any other age group. Alarmingly, research suggests that distraction among teens in Ohio and other states may be an even larger problem than previously recognized.

Reckless driving habits

Two recent studies indicate that, despite state laws and other deterrents, a large proportion of teens still engage in risky distractions while driving. According to The Huffington Post, one study utilized recordings from cameras that were installed in the vehicles of teen drivers. Researchers observed more than 1,700 videos that were recorded just before the teen drivers experienced accidents. According to National Public Radio, the other study was based on direct surveys of teenage drivers.

In both studies, researchers found that teenagers engaged in various behaviors that could increase their risk of experiencing serious car accidents. In addition to widely recognized distractions, such as texting and talking on cellphones, researchers observed the following dangerous behaviors:

  • Applying makeup or grooming
  • Changing clothes or shoes
  • Doing homework
  • Reaching for objects inside the vehicle

Some of these habits were alarmingly common. For instance, 12 percent of the accidents reviewed in the video-based study involved cellphone use. In the other study, over one-quarter of students reported "sometimes" changing shoes or clothing while driving. The frequency of these dangerous behaviors could help explain the persistently high rate of teen distracted driving accidents.

Alarming accident rates

The video study suggests that these accidents might occur much more often than previously believed. According to The Huffington Post, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 14 percent of teen car crashes are distraction-related. However, in the study, 58 percent of the accidents that were reviewed involved distracted driving. If this result is accurate, over half of all teen car accidents might involve negligent behaviors.

Such accidents may take a heavy toll in Ohio. According to the state Department of Public Safety, in 2014 alone, drivers between ages 16 and 20 were involved in over 56,000 accidents. This figure and the study result suggest that unnecessary distractions may have contributed to thousands of Ohio accidents and injuries just in 2014.

Legal recourse may be available to the victims of these needless accidents, provided that they can show they were harmed as a direct result of negligence. Still, proving that another driver was distracted and responsible for an accident may be challenging. Therefore, accident victims may benefit from speaking to an attorney for assistance understanding their options or preparing a convincing personal injury claim.