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Top distraction for teen drivers in crashes may surprise you

AAA finds causes of "100 Deadliest Days" of driving for teens 02:40

Startling new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals the disturbing behaviors behind distracted driving among young drivers.

Usually, AAA refers to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the "summer driving season," but now, it's giving it a much more ominous name - the "100 Deadliest Days."

During the summer months, more teenagers are on the road and the number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers soars to an average of 10 every day -- 16 percent higher than the rest of the year.

Working with the University of Iowa, AAA studied teen drivers over the past eight years, using dashboard cameras and documenting more than 2,200 moderate to severe collisions. Over that time, they saw a disturbing change in behavior.

"They're more likely to interact with their phones via texting or social media, which is particularly scary because they're actually then looking down, taking their eyes off the road," said Jennifer Ryan of AAA.

AAA: Hands-free devices can still cause distracted driving 02:09

According to the study, 60 percent of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving. But perhaps surprisingly, the study found that cell phones are not the number one problem.

The top distraction for teens is other passengers, accounting for 15 percent of teen driver accidents, compared to 12 percent caused by distracted by texting or talking on a cell phone.

"What we know about teens is that when they add a passenger, they're more likely to be distracted, they're more likely to engage in risky behavior," Ryan said.

Stacy Robinson lost two daughters in a crash in Texas in March. A teenage friend who was driving was looking at her phone moments before hitting an 18-wheeler head on.

"I will miss both of my daughters very much," Robinson said, sobbing.

Now, Toron Woolridge, the brother of the two girls, spreads the word about the dangers of distracted driving.

"The best way that I can honor my sisters, the best way I know possible is to talk to youth and talk to parents and help them to understand what could happen," Woolridge said.

AAA recommends complete bans on wireless devices for drivers under age 18, which is now the law in 30 states.

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