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The top teen driving distraction isn't what you think

Every time you hit the road in New York, you worry about distracted teen drivers. You know how common it is for them to start texting while driving. You know they're going on Facebook and Instagram. You know that all of the rules, regulations and awareness campaigns in the world haven't put an end to it.

You also know how costly it can be. In the space of a breath, as you go through an intersection on the way home from work, life could change forever. A distracted teen could look up too late, run the red light, and plow into the side of your car.

Soon, you're facing high medical bills, lost wages, months of rehab and much more. The financial hit is huge, and the pain and suffering is even worse -- especially since the accident could have easily been avoided.

What is the biggest distraction for teens on the road?

With that in mind, you may be very interested to know that cellphones aren't even the biggest distraction for teens, according to the American Automobile Association. Phones rank second.

The biggest distraction is simply having a friend in the car.

Per an AAA study, the top three distractions were as follows:

-- 15 percent: Talking to passengers.

-- 12 percent: Using a cellphone.

-- 11 percent: Looking at something else inside the car.

Think about how connected you were to your friends when you were a teenager. In a lot of ways, they're as important as your family.

Teens love to talk, laugh and socialize. That doesn't change just because they get into the car together. Adults may ride silently and wait to arrive at their destination, but teens are still actively hanging out, even in the car.

Plus, teens feel a lot of social pressure. Being included in everything is important to them. That's true for drivers and passengers. When their friends are talking and joking around, drivers don't necessarily want to be left out.

Deadly distractions

Distractions on the whole are still a huge issue for teens, no matter how they occur. The study found that they contributed to a full 60 percent of car accidents. Since teens have the highest accidents rates, it's clearly a dire issue.

In some cases, multiple distractions could occur at the same time. For instance, a teen could turn around to talk to a friend and hand him or her a cellphone, and that would qualify on numerous levels. Even if it only takes a moment, that's long enough for a mistake to lead to an accident at highway speeds.

As you can see, you're right to be nervous about distracted teen drivers. There may be more sources for that distraction than you originally thought.

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