While most recent media campaigns and distracted driving research has focused on texting and driving, it turns out that rowdiness and loud conversations may be dangerous, too. The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, worked with 52 teenage drivers, many of whom had just received their licenses.

Using small cameras mounted in each driver's car, researchers were able to track conditions when the car's movement set off sensors. Sudden car movements turned the camera on, picking up movement that put teen drivers at higher risk for a car accident. The cameras then collected 20 seconds of audio and video of the activity inside the car. In total, more than 24,000 clips were collected over a six-month period. Some of the most common behavior picked up by the cameras was using electronics, adjusting car controls, and personal grooming.

One-third of all the clips picked up activity with more than one person in the car. Recordings with loud conversations and general rowdiness were picked up nearly 20 percent of the time, indicating major vehicle movements during the same time period. Although these behaviors are a form of distracted driving, the study also found that teen drivers were three times more likely to take their eyes off the road when using an electronic device, while conversations with passengers were less likely to cause the driver to lose focus with the road entirely.

Texting and driving in Kentucky has been banned since 2011. Those who are caught writing, sending, or reading messages on any electronic devices face fines. Victims of those involved in such cases may have rights and could be due compensation in some cases. An experienced attorney may be able to assist in such situations.

Source: Yahoo News, "Teen driving: loud talking and rowdiness are risky distractions," Rachel Rettner, April 18, 2014

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