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A Safer Teen Driver in the Making

A Safer Teen Driver in the Making

The cliché is true: teenagers usually don't make very good drivers. However, is there a way to make them any better and hence, safer? New studies say that this can actually be done.

When we think of teenage car accidents, images of careless joyrides and intense speeding usually come to mind, but according to a national sample of 800 car crashes involving teens, almost two-thirds were due to elementary driving mistakes like becoming distracted, failing to scan the road, and misjudging road conditions.

If we hone in on, and try to correct these simple driving errors, it could work wonders in reducing teen driving deaths and injuries. In the meantime, most states have long had stricter teenage driving laws, with graduated permit programs that delay full-licensing until new drivers are a bit older, and have more supervised driving experience.

All in all, harsher laws are credited for a 30 percent decrease in teen highway deaths. Still, teenagers have the highest crash risk of any age group and account for four times as many traffic fatalities as adults.


In the study, 20 percent of crashes were due to distraction - not necessarily from a cell phone, but from a passenger in the car.

Scanning the Road

Another 20 percent of teen car accidents were due to mistakes in scanning the road and checking mirrors. Further errors in this category include "failing to anticipate that a parked truck can block the view of an intersection," and "misjudging the speed of an oncoming car while turning left."

Road Conditions

An additional 21 percent of the crashes come about from misjudging road conditions. The teen may not be speeding, but fails to slow down when turning or in icy conditions.

In order to address these driving safety issues with your teen, it's recommended that you give them a play-by-play of what you're doing and why you're doing it, while you're behind the wheel. Give examples of unsafe driving, let them know when you're checking your mirrors, and explain why you might be changing lanes or slowing down.

Overall, the more your teen driver is exposed to very diverse driving scenarios while you're behind the wheel, the more educated they'll be, and hopefully the safer they'll be, as well.

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