Many children behave better when they know their parents are watching. It appears this may also hold true for teenagers learning to drive. According to a new study, teens are less cautious and take more risks once they have obtained their license and can drive without supervision.
A Reputation for Risky Behavior
Teenage drivers have long been known to be at greater risk for car accidents than other drivers with more experience. However, a new study shows just when teens may be taking the most risks. Researchers observed the driving behavior of a group of teens over the course of two years, beginning when they received their learner’s permits. The study team used cameras and sensors inside cars to observe the driving habits of both parents and children.
The study, which included 49 girls and 41 boys aged 16 years on average, revealed that when the children had their learner’s permit, they were much less likely to be involved in a crash or a near-collision. Moreover, they were less likely to engage in any unsafe driving practices such as speeding, slamming on the breaks, and swerving. In fact, when they only had their learner’s permits, the study found that the likelihood of teens exhibiting risky behavior was similar to that of adults.
Driver’s Licenses Signal Change in Behavioral Pattern
These patterns in behavior remained until around the time that the teens obtained their driver’s licenses. Throughout the first year that a teen possessed a driver’s license, dishearteningly, their likelihood of crashing or narrowly escaping collisions increased to six times that of adults. Additionally, they were four times more likely to exhibit unsafe driving practices than their adult counterparts. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, while teen drivers only account for about six percent of licensed drivers in the U.S., they account for nine percent of fatal crashes.
A Stark Contrast in Behaviors
The contrast in the study between teenage drivers and their parents is alarming:
- Average Mileage – During the study, teens drove an average of 5,445 miles, and 490,000 miles total; their parents drove more than twice those numbers.
- Total Near Crashes, Crashes, and Collisions – As reported to the police, the teens in the study had a total of 148 near crashes, 69 collisions, and 9 crashes, equating to 2.4 incidents per driver, while parents had a total of 84 near crashes, 28 collisions, and 2 crashes, equating to 1.2 incidents per driver.
- Incidents of Risky Driving – Teens had a total of 18,378 incidents of risky driving, equating to about 108 events per driver. Parents had a total of 5,272 incidents of risky driving, equating to about 59 incidents per driver.
There are quite a few reasons as to why the study could have provided skewed results. The study, while small, was also not controlled and did not focus on the presence of parents in the car, and did not span a long period of time. Regardless, the results still demonstrate the importance that the presence of an adult seems to have on a teenage driver.
Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Help Those Injured in Crashes Involving Teen Drivers
If you or your teenager have been injured in a car accident, it is extremely important to contact an experienced auto accident and personal injury attorney. At AlpernSchubert P.C. we have been representing injured people for over 35 years. To learn more about your rights and potential avenues for obtaining the compensation you deserve, call us today at 412-765-1888 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with a seasoned Pittsburgh car accident lawyer. From our Pittsburgh office, we represent injured accident victims throughout western Pennsylvania, including those in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.