Despite mandated graduated licensing schemes, in-depth driver training and a greater awareness of dangerous driving habits, many young drivers still end up in serious automobile accidents.
A 2008 report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) found that one-third of all deaths and injuries among young people are due to road crashes. Car accidents also remain the leading cause of hospital admissions for people in this age bracket.
What can cause a young driver to crash? A recent study by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies hones in on the most common errors teen drivers make that lead to a serious crash.
Researchers analyzed a nationally-representative U.S. database of more than 800 crashes involving teen drivers and identified a few common “critical errors” that are often one of the last in a chain of events leading up to a crash. Seventy-five percent of these crashes were due a critical teen driver error, with three common errors accounting for nearly half of all serious crashes. Among crashes with a teen driver error:
- Twenty-one percent occurred due to lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards.
- Twenty-one percent occurred due to going too fast for road conditions, (for example, driving too fast to respond to others, or to successfully navigate a curve).
- Twenty percent occurred due to being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.
The researchers note that environmental conditions, such as poor weather, vehicle malfunction, aggressive driving, or physical impairments such as drowsy driving were not primary factors in most crashes.
“This study helps dispel the myth that most teen crashes are due to aggressive driving or thrill-seeking,” said Allison Curry, Ph.D., lead author and a researcher at CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP). “Promoting safe driving skills is as important as preventing problem behaviors.”
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