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Fall 2011 | Vol. 13 | No. 3
New Studies Shed Light on Teen Driving Behavior
Three recent reports are providing important insight on teen driving behavior. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA Foundation) released one report on teens transitioning to unsupervised driving and a second on the risk and causes of crashes associated with the initial period of driving. In addition, State Farm® published a study on the alarming prevalence of parents who text or talk on the phone, even while coaching their teens how to drive. All three reports were released in conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 16-22.
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The first AAA Foundation study – Measuring Changes in Teenage Driver Crash Characteristics During the Early Months of Driving [1.1 MB, 53 pgs.] – analyzed the crash data associated with new drivers in North Carolina. This data revealed that teens have an approximately 50 percent greater chance of a crash during their first month of independent driving than after a full year of experience. The risk jumps to nearly twice the level when compared with two full years of experience.
The most common causes of new teen driver crashes were failure to reduce speed, inattention, and failure to yield. Some types of crashes, such as those involving left-hand turns, occurred more frequently during the first few months of driving but declined as drivers became more experienced.
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The AAA Foundation’s Transition to Unsupervised Driving [757 KB, 25 pgs.] study used in-vehicle cameras to capture novice drivers’ behaviors both as they were learning to drive with their parents and during their first six months of unsupervised driving. Researchers discovered that supervised driving consisted mostly of familiar trips under rather easy driving conditions. According to the AAA Foundation, this demonstrates the need for more practice on unfamiliar roads in different weather conditions. When parents were no longer in the car, cameras captured many near crashes due to inexperience as well as some cases of texting while driving, running red lights, and other distracting and dangerous behaviors.
A new State Farm® survey questioned parents and teen drivers about their distracted driving behavior. Results showed that most parents – even those helping their teens learn to drive – confess to being distracted by cellphones or other electronics themselves while driving. In fact, 53% of parents admitted being distracted by such devices at least once while teaching their teens to drive. Interestingly, 61 percent of teens reported that their parents were distracted while teaching them to drive. More teens (54 percent) also reported that they had seen their parents use a cellphone while driving “sometimes, often, or all the time”; only 43% of parents admitted the same behavior.
For more information on the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports, visit www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/2011TeenSafeDriverWeekPR.pdf [315 KB, 2 pgs.].