More teens distracted behind the wheel, AAA study says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Texting, putting on lipstick and adjusting the radio. Distracted driving is more of a problem with teenage drivers than originally thought, according to AAA.

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety looked at nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers just moments before a crash. In nearly 60-percent of the videos, the teens were distracted.

"We're hoping that our central findings of the study will make parents more aware of the magnitude of the problem and the potential for disaster," Peter Kissinger, president of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said.

Driving instructor Andy Wojtowicz of Ride Chicago Driving School has advice for parents.

"Don't let your son or daughter use the phone while driving. Make sure you let them know that this is not right. Wait until you finish the drive. Then you could make a phone call or text message," Wojtowicz said.

Zach Schwartz, 17, got his license a year ago.

"I've never texted. I've tried not to be distracted. My mom actually had a rule that I was not allowed to have a passenger for the first three months," he said.

Schwartz tried out a distracted driving simulator and found it doesn't take much to get in an accident. It's a lesson his family knows all too well. Eight years ago, his grandfather was killed in a crash involving a distracted driver.

"That really opened my entire family's eyes on how bad it is to be distracted when you're driving," he said.

AAA said the study shows the importance of graduated licensing laws. Illinois is one of the states that restricts passengers and prohibits cell phone use for teens.


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