By Sabrina Toppa
March 26, 2015

Everyone complains about teenage drivers glued to their cellphones while on the road. But a new report and video from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) shows just how dangerously distracted they are — much more than anyone thought.

The study found in 58 percent of moderate to severe crashes involving teen drivers, distractions played a part. That’s four times the previous official estimates.

In 2013, the most recent year for which there is data, 963,000 teenagers crashed a vehicle, killing 2,865 people and injuring 383,000 more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says driver distraction caused 14% of all crashes, with 7% of those caused specifically by cellphone usage. But the new AAA study — reviewing more than 6,800 videos from inside cars from August 2007 to July 2013 — finds that the prevalence of distraction is way higher.

It says that at least 12% of teen car crashes involved cellphone usage, 5% higher than the official statistic.

The report additionally found that teenagers using a cellphone did not look at the road for an average 4.1 of the six seconds before a crash. When distracted by cellphones, teenagers failed to brake or steer appropriately, with most rear-end collisions caused by slower reaction times. Some 15% of teen crashes involved a driver inattentively chatting with at least one passenger.

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