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 teendriving.AAA.com.