teen driverTeen driver crash risk highest during the first three months after getting a driver’s license.

A new study used software and cameras to monitor teen driving behaviors. It found that teen drivers are eight times more likely to be involved in a collision or near miss during the first three months they are a licensed driver.

This is compared to the previous three months on a learner’s permit. The study was done by National Institutes of Health also found that:

Teens are also four times more likely to engage in risky behaviors during this period, such as:

  • rapid acceleration
  • sudden braking
  • hard turns

These same teens when on a learner’s permit drove more safely, with their crash/near crash and risky driving rates similar to those of adults.

Parents Ride Along the First Few Months

“Given the abrupt increase in driving risks when teenagers start to drive independently, our findings suggest that they may benefit from a more gradual decrease in adult supervision during the first few months of driving alone,” said Bruce Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., one of the authors of the study.

This is one of the first studies to follow teen drivers from the beginning of the learner period through the first year of independent driving. Data from software and cameras in the vehicles continuously recorded the teen drivers.

Overall, the study found that the crash/near crash rate for teen drivers didn’t decline over the first year of driving. The rate of risky driving modestly declined. Researchers believe that the teenagers learned from their experiences. So, one would expect that the driving risks would consistently decline over time.

Higher Risks Daylight Hours

Teenagers also had a higher risky driving rate under favorable conditions—daytime or dry roads—compared to less favorable conditions—nighttime or wet roads. This finding implies that teenagers may be more careful and less inclined to take risks during unfavorable driving conditions.

Teenage Boys are Highest Risk

When comparing male and female teens, the study team found that the risky driving rate did not differ by gender during the learning period. However, when teenagers entered independent driving stages, males had a higher risky driving rate. This rate did not consistently decrease over time for males but did decrease for females. The crash/near crash rate was similar across genders and driving periods.

“During the learner’s permit period, parents are present, so there are some skills that teenagers cannot learn until they are on their own,” said Pnina Gershon, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “We need a better understanding of how to help teenagers learn safe driving skills when parents or other adults are not present.”

 

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