The greatest risk of traffic crashes is among teenage drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers across the United States. There are many factors that cause teenagers to be risky drivers. Some of the factors include:
- Poor hazard detection
- Low risk perception
- Risk taking
- Lack of skills
- Alcohol and drugs
- Distracted driving
Crash experts have determined why newly licensed teenagers have more car accidents than adults. It's largely because of gravitational forces or “g-forces” that are caused by braking late or swerving abruptly. This causes the teen to lose control of the vehicle and leaves less time to react to hazards.
Who's more risky while driving, a teen or an adult?
The U.S. National Institutes of Health, NIH, studied 42 newly licensed teens and 55 parents, for comparative purposes, in order to assess their driving habits. Their cars were outfitted with surveillance systems and video monitors to collect information on acceleration and mileage. The study showed that new teen drivers were almost four times as likely to end up in a car accident or a "close-call" as adult drivers. Teens behind the wheel experienced much higher g-forces because they engaged in sharp turning about 25 to 30 times more often than their parents.
The NIH team concluded that risky driving declines with experience as young drivers learn to reduce risky behavior. Interestingly, teens maintain dangerous driving habits despite getting better at handling risky g-force maneuvering. Why? It could be speculated that teens are risk takers who enjoy driving fast and adrenaline rushes. Another thought is they lack knowledge about safety concerns.
What parents can do to help
Parents have a big job. They have to teach their teen drivers about safety measures and how to avoid accidents on the road. One way to teach your child is to be a good role model for them. When you are driving them around, don't be or use you cell phone, pay attention to the road and don't change the stations on the radio while driving. You teen driver may not act like they aren't paying attention to how you do things, but the truth is, they do pay attention. If your child sees you driving distracted, like being on your cell phone, they are going to think they can do it, too. They will do this even when they know it's dangerous and have been told not to do so. Fortunately, there are ways to help educate our children about the dangers of risky and distracted driving. It's no secret that when teens are better educated, they will be safer on the road.