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Mar/Apr 2012 Issue

Teen drivers most likely to crash in first month

For teens who have just earned their license and are driving unsupervised, the learning curve is steep and fraught with dangers.

According to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teen drivers are approximately 50 percent more likely to crash in the first month of driving than they are after a full year of experience driving on their own. In addition, they are nearly twice as likely to crash in those first 30 days than they are after two full years of experience.

The causes for most of those crashes involve three common mistakes, researchers found when analyzing the crashes of new drivers in North Carolina. Indeed, failure to reduce speed, inattention, and failure to yield were a factor in 57 percent of all crashes in which teens were at least partially responsible during their first month of licensed driving.

Researchers found that some types of crashes occur at relatively high rates at first and decline quickly with experience. Crashes involving left hand turns were common during the first few months of driving but declined abruptly, reflecting the teens’ initial inexperience followed by rapid learning.

That lack of experience is the main reason that motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.

A related AAA Foundation study used in-vehicle cameras to monitor teens when they were learning to drive with parents, followed by the first six months of licensed driving without their parents in the car. The research found that while teens had their learner’s permits, routine trips on familiar roads under easy driving conditions accounted for the bulk of time spent behind the wheel.

“Practice is critical, but parents must make sure they spend time driving with their teen drivers at night, in congestion, in inclement weather, and on unfamiliar roads in addition to those routine trips,” said Mike Right, vice president of AAA Public Affairs.

With parents no longer in the car, the study captured a number of close calls due to simple mistakes attributed to inexperience, which shows that parents need to drive with their teens occasionally after they get a license to reinforce basic skills, Right said.

For resources on teen driving, including a downloadable parent-teen driving agreement, visit

why teens crash


Vin Etch can help deter vehicle theft

As an effective theft deterrent, the Club will offer window etching of your vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) at several AAA offices this summer.

The cost for the service is $30 for AAA members and $40 for non-members, including six etchings per car. AAA offers discounts on insurance for VIN Etching.

Call 1-800-AAA-ROAD ext. 6821 to make appointments at least 48 hours in advance of the below dates. Please have your VIN number handy when calling for appointments.

View dates and locations



Motorists account for most work zone deaths, not vulnerable roadway workers

With road work resuming on America’s highways and bridges this spring, AAA and safety advocates are reminding motorists to use extra caution in work zones, not only to keep workers safe but motorists, who are at even greater risk.

As part of the National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is scheduled for April 23–27, AAA cautions motorists to drive safely when approaching and driving through work zones. Simple tasks such as slowing down, observing posted advisories, preparing for unusual driving conditions, practicing patience, and putting the cell phone away can reduce a motorist’s crash risk in a work zone.

While roadway workers face obvious risks to their safety, studies show that nearly 85 percent of those killed in work zone crashes are drivers or their passengers, not roadway workers.

The number of lives lost in work zone-related traffic crashes has decreased by more than 42 percent in the last five years, from 1,004 in 2006 to 576 in 2010. Still, approximately 11 people die every week in work zone crashes. The work zone deaths in 2010 included 11 in Arkansas, 15 in Louisiana, and four in Mississippi, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Motorists are encouraged to check for planned work zone delays from state and local department of transportation Web sites. Travelers may use AAA’s online TripTik® Travel Planner, which not only offers turn-by-turn directions but messages about construction areas and congestion. For on-the-go help, the routing feature in AAA’s free TripTik® Mobile app assists motorists to navigate a new route.

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Approximately 11 people die every week in work zone crashes.

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