Compared with middle-aged driver, teen drivers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a car wreck. There have been lots of theories why, but now we know the actual reasons. Researchers analyzed information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 795 serious crashes involving drivers who where 15 to 18 years old.
Their report, published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, showed some information that might be useful in preventing teen crashes and injury:
- About 75% of all serious crashes in which a teen was a driver were caused by the teen.
- About 46% of teen errors were recognition errors–being distracted, not checking mirrors often enough, or misjudging the speed of other cars when making a left turn.
- The next most common error, which accounted for 40% of teen errors, was decision error–these include following too closely or driving too fast for condition.
- 8% of errors were performance errors, such as losing control.
According to an article in The New York Times, when teens learn to drive, they learn the basics—how to stay in a lane, how to park, how to turn—often in a deserted parking lot or on a sunny day. In addition, parents should also give driving lessons in the dark and during inclement weather. In addition, parents should also teach driving judgement through something called “narrative driving”:
…the adult drives while giving a teenage passenger a play by play. Point out examples of unsafe driving, explain why you are changing lanes or slowing down, announce when you are checking the mirrors, and explain how you are reacting to information. Show the prospective driver how you deal with distractions like a disruptive child in the back seat without taking your eyes off the road.
“It’s helpful to talk out loud about what you’re seeing and doing,” Dr. Durbin said [Dennis Durbin, co-director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia]. “It sensitizes your teen to the fact that there is a lot more going on up here in the front seat than he thought there was.”
Suggestions also include making sure children get enough sleep, and if not, that they not be allowed to drive that day. It’s about keeping kids safe…and alive.