For teenagers, the first unsupervised month behind the wheel – when parental direction often is replaced by distraction by other teens – is by far the most dangerous.
According to a new study by the AAA Foundation, the odds of teens having a car accident during their first month of solo driving are 50 percent higher than after a year of driving experience. The study, based on careful examination of North Carolina’s new-driver crashes from 2001 through 2008, found that 57 percent of crashes are due to three mistakes:
• Excessive speed
• Failure to yield
• Driver distraction
“The fact that the parents are no longer in the car can make a big difference,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II in a WashingtonPost.com article. “There’s not enough life experience and not enough time under their belt to negotiate everything that can crop up on the road.”
Despite Progress, Driver Inexperience Remains a Problem
While graduated licensing laws that restrict nighttime driving and the number of passengers have contributed to lower crash rates in recent years, teen accident fatalities remain a serious problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. According to NHTSA.gov, teenagers have three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers.
Instilling Safe Driving Habits
Helping teens develop safe driving habits does not end with the driver’s license exam – additional training and experience count. To help your teen driver beat the odds of an accident, AAA.com suggests:
• Talk to your teen regularly about the importance of safe driving
• Practice drive with your teen under different driving conditions – moving from easy to difficult
• Keep feedback constructive
• Be a good role model
Unfortunately, even with the best guidance, teens are often tempted by technology that is close at hand. Accidents caused by cell phone use are one of the most common forms of distracted driving today.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you should speak with an attorney with a strong track record of aggressive representation. An experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney can review your case and discuss the options available to you.