A new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) discovered that once teenagers swap their learner’s permits for driver’s licenses, and are able to drive without an adult, they often throw caution to the wind and drive more recklessly. This isn’t good news when statistics show that car accidents are the No. 1 single cause of death for teenagers. Crashes account for one in three teenage deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study by the NIH used cameras and sensors placed inside the cars of 90 teenagers—both boys and girls—and their parents to observe driving behaviors. It followed the kids and the grownups over two years, starting when the teenagers received their learner’s permits. During the time teenagers had their permits, they generally drove as cautiously as their parents. But when they got their licenses and weren’t accompanied in the car by parents, risky driving habits ensued. This was particularly true during the first year of having their licenses, when teenagers were over six times more likely to crash, or nearly crash, as the adults. The teens were also four times more likely to engage in unsafe behaviors behind the wheel. Parents drove nearly twice as many miles during the study as the teens, but teens had twice the number of crashes, near misses and risky driving incidents as their parents.
National Teen Driver Safety Week
With all this information in mind, it’s a good time to advocate for increased teen safety behind the wheel. And National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), taking place October 21-27, 2018, does just that. The focus of the annual event, which was voted in by the U.S. Congress in 2007, is to reduce the tragic number of teen deaths and injuries in auto accidents. It is a time for teens, parents, schools, police, policymakers and other safety advocates to raise awareness about teen driving statistics and come up with solutions related to teen car crashes. Teens and their parents can learn how to get involved during NTDSW and spread the safety message in their communities and schools by visiting www.teendriversource.org/advocacy-education/national-teen-driver-safety-week.
Tips for Helping Young Drivers Stay Safe
Parents can also help their teenage drivers stay safe on the road by being engaged when it comes to their kids’ driving. Remind young drivers to wear seatbelts and to put cell phones away while behind the wheel. Make time to help young drivers practice driving in different traffic situations by joining them on the road. Set rules when teenagers are first driving on their own, such as how far they can drive and with how many friends in the car; data shows that teenagers who drive with two or more peers of their own age in the car more than triple their risk of a fatal crash. Finally, and very importantly, parents should set positive examples by modeling safe driving habits, refraining from using cell phones, speeding, acting aggressively toward other drivers and engaging in other dangerous behaviors.
If you have a question about a motor vehicle accident, or need the services of an experienced accident attorney, the professionals at Kaplan Law are available for you to contact 24/7.