Driving Habits of Newly Licensed Teens Take a Turn for the WorseOctober 24, 2018
Obtaining a driver’s license is a major milestone for teens. With it, comes a new level of independence and freedom. However, it is also a big responsibility that should not be taken lightly. While most teen drivers tend to be cautious and follow the rules of the road when they are first learning to drive, this behavior often changes when they get their driver’s license. A new study examined the driving habits of newly licensed teen drivers to determine when their unsafe driving behaviors are at their worst and what can be done to make safety a priority.
Researchers used cameras and sensors that were placed inside cars to observe the driving habits of teens and their parents over a two-year period, which began when the teen drivers got their learner’s permit. They found that the crash risk of teens who had their permits was similar to the adults. In addition, they had similar rates of speeding, swerving, and slamming on the brakes. However, in the first year of receiving their driver’s license, the teen drivers were six times more likely to be involved in a car accident. They were also close to four times more likely to engage in unsafe driving behaviors.
According to a researcher at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health, because parents are in the vehicle during the permit phase, teens are much more likely to pay attention to their surroundings, follow the speed limit, and obey the traffic laws. Parents are also able to help their teen driver keep his or her attention focused on the road, offer safe driving tips, and alert them to potentially dangerous situations.
Crash Results from the Study
The study included 49 girls and 41 boys, all of whom were an average age of 16. Over the course of the study, the teens drove an average of 5,445 miles and a total of approximately 490,000 miles. The teens’ parents drove over twice as many miles. They found the following results:
- The teen group had a total of 69 collisions, 148 close calls, and nine accidents that were reported to the police, which averaged out to 2.4 incidents per driver.
- The parent group had 28 collisions, 84 close calls, and two crashes that were reported to the police, which averaged out to 1.2 incidents per driver.
- Teens had a total of 18,378 incidents of risky driving, compared to the parents who had only 5,272.
- The highest rates of crashes and other dangerous driving behaviors occurred in the months after getting their licenses.
This study shows how important it is for parents to model safe, responsible driving behavior, but particularly when their children are in the car.
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