Teen Driving

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group.  In 2009, eight teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash. The lack of driving experience along with the fact the teenage brain is still developing are the two main reasons for this.  The prefrontal cortex, which is involved in self control is one of the last parts of the brain to fully mature.  Because of this, teenagers are more prone to risk taking, impulsive behaviors, and sensation seeking behaviors.

Many parents believe that enrolling their teen in a driver’s education class will help reduce the risk of having an accident. Actually their is no proof that driver’s education reduces the rate of accidents for teenagers.  In fact, specialized driver’s training classes that teach emergency maneuvers may actually increase the risk of a crash, especially for teen males.  The reason for this is it may give the teen a false sense of security, which may lead to riskier driving.  What about increasing the number of hours of supervised driving? There is no correlation between more hours of parent supervised driving and decreased accidents.  Studies have found that teenagers whose parents spend a lot of time supervising their teens driving are no more likely than teenagers with less supervised driving to avoid car accidents once licensed.

One factor that has been show to decrease accidents was driving alone.  The research conclusively shows that only by driving alone do teens develop the complex skill they need to be safe on the road.  Additionally parents need to impose strict limits on risky driving conditions. Such limits include restricting night and bad whether driving and no cellular telephone use.  Parents also need to insist on seat belt use, monitor sleep, discuss drug and alcohol use, and make sure parental rules about driving are clarified and understood.

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