Teens may be cautious while they’re learning to drive; however, a new study suggests they’re behaviors become much more reckless once they are allowed to hit the road without an adult in the car.
Plenty of previous research has shown that new drivers have a lot more accidents than people with experience.
The current study helped to identify when teen driver is at its riskiest by using cameras and sensors inside cars. These cameras were used to identify driving habits for parents and children over a period of nearly two years, starting when teens got their learner’s permits.
The study found that when teens first had their permits, their chance of being in a crash or nearly missing a collision as well as their odds of exhibiting risky driving behavior like speeding, swerving, and slamming the brakes were similar to the adults.
However, within the first year of getting their licenses and driving without a parent or adult present, they were more than six times more likely to crash or narrowly escape collisions than the adults, and they were also almost four times more likely to exhibit risky driving behaviors.
Adolescent drivers have always been recorded as having disproportionately higher crash rates than other driver age groups, accounting for six percent of licensed drivers in the U.S. but nine percent of fatal crashes. The study provides further insight to these high crash rates.
The study included 49 girls and 41 boys who were all 16 years of age on average. During the study, teens drove an average of 5,445 miles and a total of about 490,000 miles. Their parents, meanwhile, drove more than twice as many miles. As a group, teens had a total of 148 near crashes, 69 collisions, and 9 crashes that were reported to the police. This translated into an average of 2.4 incidents per driver.
By contrast, parents had a total of 84 close calls, 28 collisions, and 2 crashes that were reported to the police. This translated into an average of 1.2 incidents per driver. Teens also had a total of 18,378 incidents of risky driving, which translated into roughly 108 events per driver. The parents, meanwhile, had 5,272 incidents of risky driving, or about 59 per driver.
For young drivers, the highest rates of crashes, near misses and risky driving occurred in the months immediately after they got licenses and started hitting the road without a parent in the car.
It is also important to note that beyond its small size, the study also wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how parents’ presence in the car might directly improve teen driving safety. Researchers also didn’t follow teens long enough to see how their driving records might change with a few more years of experience.
According to the latest available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
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