Whether teen drivers are talking or texting on cellphones or simply chatting with passengers, distractions play a larger role in car accidents than previously thought and were responsible for nearly 60 percent of moderate to severe crashes, a study found.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed 1,700 videos taken from inside crash vehicles. The videos, ordinarily part of a private program designed to coach drivers to improve performance, allowed for in-depth examination of the moments before impact.

According to the analysis, all forms of distraction were a factor in 58 percent of crashes studied, including 89 percent of those in which the vehicle left the road and 76 percent that involved rear-end collisions.

The top distraction, in 15 percent of the crashes, involved the driver's interacting with at least one passenger. Next, at 12 percent, was the driver's using a cellphone to talk, text, or review the screen for messages

and such. - Los Angeles Times