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First Month of Driving Proves Most Dangerous for Teens

Many highlights and hallmarks occur during childhood. One significant event is the first time a teenager can drive a car on his or her own or with friends. Most teenagers look forward to those first solo drives for months, if not years. However, enthusiasm can sometimes come at the expense of safe driving. A new study has shown that the first month on the road can be the most dangerous for new teenage drivers.

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that teenagers in the first month of driving are one-and-a-half times more likely to crash than they are merely a year later, and twice as likely after two years of driving.

While the fact that inexperienced teenage drivers are more likely to crash is not shocking, it can be surprising just how many factors can negatively affect a new teenage driver’s ability to be safe on the road.

Distractions and More Distractions

Many states have graduated driver’s licenses for new teenage drivers. For example, North Carolina has a graduated license system which separates driving privileges into three levels. A Level 1 driver has a learner’s permit. A Level 2 driver is a 16 or 17 year-old who has certain restrictions on driving privileges. For example, a Level 2 driver cannot drive with more than one passenger in the car unless accompanied by a supervisor. In addition, a Level 2 driver cannot drive at night without supervision.

The restrictions on the number of passengers can help. Many teenagers, especially new drivers, do not understand the need to constantly pay attention to the road and can get caught up in conversation.

Unfortunately, other distractions are prevalent. Smartphones, cell phones and other handheld electronic devices are creating numerous distractions and hazards on our nation’s roads, and some teenagers are prone to this type of distracted driving. Other types of distracted driving include eating and grooming while driving.

Other Risks

Distractions are not the only cause of teenage car accidents. Inexperience and immaturity play large roles. Teenage brains are naturally more prone to taking chances. According to a National Institutes of Health study, the part of the brain that inhibits risky behavior doesn’t fully form until the age of 25, possibly why teenagers are more likely to speed or drive impaired than other population demographics. In addition, inexperience with navigating weather conditions or heavy traffic can contribute to the likelihood of a teenage crash.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. While informing teenagers of the risk and graduated licensing help (the number fatal crashes that involved teenagers lowered by 37 percent from 2000 to 2009) the risk is still very real.

If you have been involved in a car accident, speak to a personal injury attorney. A car crash can have a great affect on the lives of those involved, and understanding your rights can help to mitigate some of the costs associated with a crash.