Teenagers who reach for objects, such as food or makeup, while driving increase their risk of crashing nearly seven times, maintains research by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. The study, which appears in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, also found that manually dialing, texting, or browsing the Internet on a phone while driving doubled a teen's crash risk.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and disabilities among drivers 16 to 20 years old, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The study is the first to use real-time driving data to quantify the extent to which visual inattention--the amount of time a teen's eyes shift from the road to various distractions--contributes to the risk of a crash.
Researchers followed 82 newly licensed teen drivers in Virginia over a one-year period, equipping their vehicles with cameras and GPS technology to track each driver's activity and environment. After one year, 43 of the drivers did not experience a crash, while 25 had one crash and 14 had two or more.
Using six-second videos of driver behavior prior to a crash, researchers calculated that, for...