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AAA reports distracted driving involving teens on rise as '100 Deadliest Days' begin

As we head into the summer months, the AAA warns that we also head into the "100 Deadliest Days," when auto crashes involving teen drivers increase. A follow-up study just released by the AAA Foundation reveals a disturbing trend: texting and social media use while driving is on the rise among teens.

Over the past five years, according to an updated AAA study, more than 5,000 people have died in crashes involving teen drivers, at an average of 1,022 per year. The average number of fatalities in such crashes, according to the study, increased during the "100 Deadliest Days" by 16 percent each day, compared to other days of the year.

The most alarming trend, the study reports, involves distracted driving. It factors in nearly 60 percent of teen crashes. https://vimeo.com/134651619">Texting and social media use, while driving, is increasing.

"The recent study by the AAA Foundation shows that nearly half of teen drivers do admit that they've read a text message or an email while driving in the past 30 days," said Elizabeth Carey, spokesperson for the AAA of Western and Central New York. 

Talking with or attending to passengers within a vehicle accounted for 15 percent of crashes, according to the study, while talking or texting on a cell phone played a role in about 12 percent of crashes. Carey says as technology has progressed, so too have the problems.

"The initial problem was talking on the phone. Then it was texting on the phone. Now people are actually FaceTiming on the phone or taking part in social media on the phone. There are a lot more distractions to be aware of," she said.

Carey says many of the teens they interact with at high school programs report their parents behave similarly with smartphones. The AAA encourages parents to lead by example.

"We suggest making a parent-teen driving agreement," Carey said. "It sets a family rule against distracted driving. You want to make sure you keep everyone safe.

"This is the summertime. Kids get this new-found freedom. They're graduating from high school. Maybe they're getting their first car. They have the summer off. They want to be able to enjoy the time off with their family and their friends. We don't want to see any tragedies."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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