Teens take more risks after getting their license

Teen Drivers Take More Risks After Getting Their License

Parents have mixed feelings when it comes to their children getting their driver’s license. On the one hand, there is relief that the child can now drive themselves to all of their sports, school, and social activities, but on the other hand, there is often a tremendous amount of worry associated with seeing your 16- or 17-year-old child drive away on their own. According to a new survey conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health, parents should trust their instincts.
In a recent study, researchers placed cameras and sensors inside the cars of 49 female and 41 male teenage drivers and their parents for a period of two years to assess their driving habits. During this time, the teens graduated from driving with a learner’s permit to fully licensed drivers able to venture out on their own without a parent in the vehicle. The data was eye opening.
Teens Safer With Parents in the Car
Newly licensed teenage drivers were six times more likely to be involved in a car accident or have a close call than when they had their learner’s permit. They were also four times more likely to engage in risky behavior behind the wheel. The presence of a parent in the car with a teenage driver drastically reduced the number of car accidents and close calls the teen drivers were involved in, and significantly reduced the risk-taking behaviors exhibited by teens driving without parental supervision.
Clearly, parental presence makes a huge difference in how a teenage driver will perform behind the wheel. When parents were in the car, the teens were more focused on the road; they were more likely to obey local speed limits and traffic signals; and were less likely to engage in distracted driving or reckless behaviors. The study also revealed that parents who drove responsibly were more likely to have children that drove safely. Parents who were recorded speeding, swerving, or had to frequently slam on their brakes had children that exhibited similar behaviors.
The Journal of Adolescent Health reports that teenagers represent only six percent of all drivers in the United States, but they account for nine percent of all fatal crashes. Parents are vital role models who significantly affect the driving behaviors of their children. Those who text while driving, use cell phones and onboard infotainment systems, speed, or fail to use their seatbelts tend to have teenagers that imitate these behaviors. This puts them and all other drivers on the road in danger of being seriously injured in a car crash.
Analysts of the recent study advise parents to become positive role models for their teenage drivers, especially for new drivers as they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. Close supervision with clear consequences for irresponsible behavior can go a long way in protecting teen drivers and all those on the road.
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Michael P. Malvey

Licensed since 2002

Member at firm Galfand Berger LLP

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