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Study: Teens Most Likely to Crash in First Month

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer October 2011

A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that teen drivers are most likely to have a car accident within their first month of unsupervised driving. The recently released study says that teen drivers are 50 percent more likely to crash in their first month of driving than after a full year of experience, and nearly twice as likely to crash in their first month as they are after two years on the road.

The study, which analyzed crashes of new drivers in North Carolina, also yielded information about the types of accidents new drivers commonly have - and the reasons behind them. According to researchers, a whopping 57 percent of all teen driver crashes were related to three common mistakes: failure to reduce speed, inattention, and failure to yield. Armed with that knowledge, AAA and other organizations can help improve driver's education courses to cover those topics more thoroughly.

"We know that young drivers' crash rates decrease quickly as they gain experience," said AAA Foundation president and chief executive Peter Kissinger. "What our new study tells us is that there are a few specific abilities that we could do a better job of helping teens develop before they begin driving independently."

Interestingly, the study also examined the most common types of crashes involving new drivers. Researchers found that accidents involving left turns were common during the first few months but declined almost immediately thereafter, showing that young drivers were often involved in crashes that resulted from a lack of skills rather than a lack of understanding.  

The study also illustrated changes in teen driving behavior when a parent is no longer in the car. Researchers found that while most driving done with a parent involve familiar roads and short trips, teens driving alone often took longer trips, drove unfamiliar streets, and frequently had teen passengers in the car - all factors which can potentially contribute to an accident.

As the week of October 16 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, AAA's study serves as yet another reminder for parents and teenagers to drive safely. The organization also offers parents and teen drivers several tips to help them stay safe, reminding young drivers to practice and urging parents to set limits on their teens' night driving and their number of passengers.

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Study: Teens Most Likely to Crash in First Month - Autotrader