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As if we needed proof, video study shows perils of using smartphone behind wheel

Let’s face it, anyone who has a habit of looking at their smartphone while driving is certain to career into trouble sooner or later.

For its latest study, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety looked at driving behavior among teens involved in car accidents, and yes, as you might expect, it was able to gather plenty of data about how looking at a phone instead of the road when motoring along is really not a good idea at all.

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The research involved viewing video footage gathered by cameras inside cars driven by teens between the ages of 16 and 19. Videos of 1,700 accidents formed the basis of the study, with smartphone interaction ranking only second to passenger interaction as the most common cause of the accidents.

The foundation has even been kind enough to compile a video (above) showing a selection of near-calamitous incidents caused by distracted driving. It’s an uncomfortable watch that shows most of the drivers completely immersed in their mobile device until the moment the smooth road surface gives way to something rough and unroad-like (a verge, a sidewalk, the back of someone else’s car), startling them out of their distracted state in the process.

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According to the foundation’s report, which came out Tuesday, drivers using mobile phones spent an average of 4.1 seconds out of the final 6 seconds before the incident looking at their device. And in more than half of rear-end crashes involving a phone, “the driver exhibited no reaction at all,” the report said.

The foundation said its research found that driver distraction due to phone use happens much more than official government statistics suggest, a worrying thought if you’re reading this while driving (you shouldn’t be) and there’s a large vehicle coming up behind you at speed.