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New study examines teen driving in North Carolina

According to a new study by the Automobile Association of America, the likelihood of a teen driver being involved in a car crash during the first month of driving without supervision is 50 percent greater than after a year of driving independently.

After analyzing the data, researchers concluded that 57 percent of automobile accidents involving a teen driving during the first month of unsupervised driving were caused by three factors: failure to decrease speed, neglecting to yield and carelessness. Furthermore, the study found that new drivers' accident rates significantly decrease as their experience increases.

A parallel study by the AAA Foundation used in-car cameras to record teen drivers while learning to drive with their parents, as well as the subsequent first six months of independent driving. The cameras recorded that most of the drive time for permit-holding teenagers was spent on well-known roads under moderately easy driving conditions. The study also highlighted behavior changes in teen drivers when parents are no longer in the vehicle and served as a reminder that parents should stay involved in the learning process even after a new driver is licensed. AAA suggests that parents can help their children learn to drive safely and effectively by introducing them to an ever-increasing variety of situations and levels of difficulty.

AAA also recommends the following steps to help improve teen driving safety:

  • Practice: Even after a teen driver gets licensed, parents should continue instructing and supervising from the passenger seat, introducing a variety of driving conditions to their young driver
  • Encourage solo driving: Teen drivers are more likely to get into an accident with their friends with them in the car
  • Limit driving to daytime hours: Reduced visibility is risky for all drivers, but especially new ones; nighttime driving should be restricted to emergencies or with a parent instructor in the vehicle
  • Set boundaries: Parents should set rules regarding driving during bad weather, at nighttime and on highways

Source: Woodinville Patch, "POLL: New Teen Drivers More Likely to Crash in First Month," by Annie Archer, 10/24/11

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