How to stay safe during the ‘100 deadliest days’ for teen drivers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) — A period of time dubbed the "100 deadliest days" for teen drivers has begun, according to AAA.

The auto club said over the past five years, more than 5,000 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers between Memorial Day and August.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the results of a study this week that said the use of texting and social media while driving continues to rise. It said teen drivers are more distracted than ever on the road.

"Despite every effort being made to educate teens about the dangers of distracted driving, AAA research indicates that the message is just not getting through," said Amy Parmenter, AAA spokesperson. "And, all too often, the consequences are deadly."

The foundation said it built on a previous study that looked at 1,700 teen driver crashes caught on camera between Aug. 2007 and July 2013. It added 500 more crashes that happened between Aug. 2013 and April 2015.

The second phase of the study confirmed that 60 percent of teen crashes involved driver distraction, according to AAA.

It also revealed that the average "eyes off the road" time increased from 1.5 seconds to 2.1 seconds.

AAA said the percentage of crashes in which the driver had no reaction beforehand nearly doubled from 13 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2014.

The foundation said the findings support a Pew Research Center study that showed text messaging has become a key component in the day-to-day interactions of teens. It said 55 percent of teens spent time every day texting and sent an estimated 80 text messages per day.

"Teen drivers in the second phase of the study have likely been texting for a longer period of their lives than those in the first phase, giving them an even more dangerous sense of confidence in doing so behind the wheel," Parmenter said.

Additional findings included:
•Distracting behaviors were conversing or otherwise interacting with passengers and cell phone use
•Crashes that involved looking at a cell phone increased significantly
•Passengers were present in 34 percent of all crashes, 85 percent of passengers were between the ages of 16 and 19
•The driver was engaged in cell phone use in 12 percent of crashes

AAA said teen driving crashes increase significantly during the summer months because teens have more time to drive.

Here's more on AAA's phase II study.