Learn Top 3 Deadliest Teen Driving Distractions

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens; most due to distraction.

ByABC News via logo
September 15, 2008, 6:35 AM

May 8, 2008 — -- Getting a driver's license may be the quintessential right of passage for American teenagers, but with it comes the very real danger of car crashes -- the leading cause of death for tweens and teens. Many of those deaths are due to dangerous distractions.

"Eighty-seven percent of the 6,000 teens that die every year die because of driving with distractions," Allstate Insurance spokeswoman Megan Brunet said.

Now, a new study outlines which distractions are the most dangerous for young motorists.

Riding with an unbuckled seatbelt, with other teen passengers or at a high rate of speed proved to be some of the most dangerous situations for teen drivers, according to the study, which was carried out by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance.

The research focused on nearly 10,000 child passengers who were killed in car crashes, and more than half of them were riding in cars with a teen driver. More than three-fourths of the fatal crashes occurred on roads with speed limits higher than 45 mph.

With that information, "Good Morning America" decided to put a teen driver to the test and see how different distractions would affect a young motorist. Correspondent David Kerley and his teen daughter Devan, who has been driving for one year, took the challenge.

The pair used the Allstate Insurance practice course and Devan got all the basics, like aggressive braking and collision avoidance.

Once she got the hang of it, distractions were added to the equation. First, texting was brought into the mix. As Devan read a text, she jerked the wheel and hit the course cones. When friends were brought in as backseat passengers, the distraction proved too much for Devan, who hit more cones.

Even eating brought problems. As Devan handed cookies to her passengers, she hit additional cones on the course.

"It was kind of like panic [because] I was trying to listen to them and I wasn't looking ahead," she said after completing the course.

"Those cones could have been people, and when you're distracted, you aren't able to avoid those cones or whatever they may be," she said.

Devan said she found the course extremely useful.

"I think this would be a cool course, standard procedure, for teens trying to get their licenses," she said.

For more information on safe driving for teens, go to click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.