Transcript for Shocking Videos Show Teen Drivers Moments Before a Crash
We move on to the new video with the graphic illustration of the combustible mix of teenagers, cars, and distraction. This is a warning not only for parents but for anybody who gets behind the wheel and here's ABC's Linzie Janis. Reporter: Watch as this teen distracted by her phone for roughly six seconds loses control and careens off the road. And this teen, one hand on the phone, another on the wheel. Just seconds before colliding with another car. Here's another playing deejay before running off the road. And another chatting to her friend then plowing into the car in front of her. Oh ! These shocking videos part of an unprecedented look at the number one killer of American teenagers, car crashes. In the most comprehensive research of its kind of the aaa foundation for traffic safety analyzed nearly 1,700 accident videos, finding distraction a factor in nearly 60% of crashes. That's four times the previous estimates based on police reports. What we call eyes off the road. Reporter: The biggest distraction may come as a surprise. What was the most common? The most common was talking to somebody in the vehicle. Exactly what we're doing. Reporter: And the second-biggest distraction? Texting and talking on cell phones. Teens have the highest crash R rate of any group. Maryland teenager Liz marks was a beautiful, popular high schooler who even did modeling on the side. When in April 2012 she was driving and received a text from her mom. I would ask Liz all the time, did you text and drive? Do you use your cell phone behind the wheel? She told me no. So I felt confident, that it was okay to text Liz. Reporter: In the moments Liz took her eyes off the road to read the text, she crashed into a tow truck. The 17-year-old was airlifted to a hospital with serious brain injuries. I remember praying. And as my head was down, I saw blood all over the floor. And it was my daughter's blood. Reporter: And now at 20, Liz remains disfigured, disabled, and blind in one eye. Take a look, see how you're doing. Reporter: Today ocularist at Johns Hopkins is fitting Liz with a prosthetic eye. Part of her lifelong journey. It's going to be very much like having two eyes again. Reporter: From the accident injuries she's lost her sense of smell, can't create tears, and can't fall asleep without drugs. I had to relearn how to walk, talk, breathe right, chew. I didn't know how to do anything. Reporter: Liz and her mother Betty travel the country speaking out at high schools to warn teens about the hazards of distracted driving and how no text is worth risking your life. We ask the students, do you text and drive? And a lot of them raise their hands. Then we ask, do your parents text and drive? And those hands go flying. So the young adults, the young drivers, think if they can do it, then I can do it. If you get a text, don't look at it. Reporter: Their psa for the department of transportation has been viewed over 8 million times on youtube. It's a warning that isn't just for teens but for all of us who drive in this age of 24/7 technology. Here I go. There's a lot of traffic building up here. Reporter: To better understand how small distractions can lead to serious, sometimes fatal errors -- Oh! Poor deer. Reporter: I headed to fresh screen light driving school in greenwich, Connecticut, with aaa's Robert Sinclair. This is a multi-screen simulator that many teens are using to drive. Text 35350. Reporter: I was surprised how a tiny bit of distraction made me second-guess my driving ability. Oh! Reporter: Sinclair says if we're serious about safety we need to eliminate every distraction. Even before you get started we're going to have you remove your bulky winter coat. No kidding? Absolutely. I can't drive in my coat? You shouldn't. It restricts the movement of your arms. I'm not going to disobey the driving instructor. Reporter: How can we all be safer behind the wheel? 16 to 19 years old, week talking about a driver that has very limited experience. Limited training. And numerous studies have shown that the young brain is not fully developed until it gets to 21, 22 years old. Reporter: I asked Robert what parents could do to minimize teen accidents. Number one, set some rules. You let your teen driver know exactly what is expected of him or her. Where you outline very carefully, perhaps even with a written contract, the behaviors that are acceptable. Reporter: Number two, buy a safe car. You want a slow, underpowered, preferably big vehicle. Reporter: Number three, monitor their behavior. There are devices that you can track -- Spy on your children? Why not? You want to keep them alive? Reporter: For all drivers, adults included, he warns against loud music and says just because you use a hands-free device doesn't mean you're safe. Aaa is now pushing states to pass laws prohibiting cell phone use by teen drivers. So far, 13 states have not. For distracted teen drivers lucky enough to survive, the punishment can be severe. In 2012, 18-year-old Aaron Devoe became the first driver in Massachusetts to be convicted of vehicular homicide by texting after hitting a 54-year-old man. On the day of the accident, Devoe sending a reported 193 texts. As for Liz marks, who answered that fateful text from her mom, her message is simple. The message is to not text and drive. A text message can wait, your life can't. Don't waste it like I wasted mine. Reporter: For "Nightline" in Connecticut, I'm Linzie Janis. You should know every driver shown in that aaa video did survive. Nobody was killed in any of those crashes.
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