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AAA: Distracted driving a huge factor in teen driver crashes

AAA: Distracted driving is worse than previously thought 02:04

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers, and an Automobile Association of America study released Wednesday finds that distracted driving plays a much bigger role than we knew.

AAA analyzed 1700 teenage car accidents, all of them captured on video tape.

And in clip after clip, watch how the eyes of the driver are so attached to their phones...they leave the road on the right -- or cross the center line to the left, often without realizing what's happening.

A young man in one clip using a phone "looks" both ways...but seems so mentally distracted he doesn't see the car that hits him.

AAA estimates distraction is a factor in 58 percent of all teen accidents CBS News

Based on the videos, AAA concludes that distraction is a factor in 58 percent of moderate to severe teenage accidents, that's four times the U.S. government estimate of 14 percent.

The report says the cell phone is so consuming, half of all the teenagers who caused rear end collisions were still driving at full speed.

"They took no evasive action," said Peter Kissinger, president of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "They didn't break. They didn't steer."

And they plowed into someone else at full speed.

"Absolutely," said Kissenger. "And thank God there wasn't a young child that ran in front of the car."

One teenager who was killed by distracted driving was 17 year old Sydnee Williams, who lost control while focused on her phone. Her father Brock Dietrich blames himself for not setting rules and not setting a better example.

"I used to text while I drove," said Dietrich. "So I really live with the guilt that Sydnee learned texting and driving from me, and that's what cost her her life."

AAA is now urging the states to pass tougher cell phone and passenger restrictions on teenagers. The reason for that is that the most dangerous distractions that teens face, aside from that cell phone, is when they have more than one passenger in the car.

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