According to an analysis by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance for Highway Safety, teenage drivers are returning to the roads. Why? The recent economic recovery may have much to do with more young people getting behind the wheel.
Observers had previously theorized that the decline in teenage driving was possibly due to a general lack of interest. Some experts had believed that because teenagers are primarily occupied with cell phones and social media, driving had become less attractive to them.
However, the HLDI has since shown that there is a strong relationship between the decline in teen driving and the rise of teen unemployment. And now that more teenagers are getting jobs and the means to help pay for a car, it is clear that young people do, in fact, want to own and operate vehicles. So, what does this mean for other drivers?
Teenage Drivers and Safety Concerns
It is an established fact that teenagers have the highest crash rate per mile traveled of any drivers. And because most of these teens are so attached to their cell phones and to social media, distracted driving may become a very big safety concern for all drivers.
Recently, researchers from AAA analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. These videos document moderate-to-severe teen crashes, and what they show is quite revealing. Out of the crashes studied, 58% were clearly caused by distractions.
To be fair, only 12% of these crashes were the result of cell phone use. Other reasons for driver distraction included interaction with passengers, looking at something (other than a cell phone) inside of the car and looking at something outside of the window. However, it should be noted that a previous report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that only 14% of all teen crashes were due to driver distraction.
It seems fairly obvious that cell phone use is having a negative impact on current teenage drivers.
Adult Driver Awareness
Because there are (and will probably continue to be) more teen drivers, adults have a special responsibility to do what they can as experienced drivers to help make the roads as safe as possible. Parents of teenage drivers, especially, can make a big difference in overall driving safety.
- Stay alert. Young drivers could be anywhere. If one of them makes an unsafe move, it may be up to you to get out of the way. Always be aware of the other vehicles around you, and give yourself as much distance as possible.
- Be a good example. If you do have a teenaged child or have other teenagers in your family, limit your cell phone use in the car. For your own safety, you should be doing this anyway. Even if there are no young people in your life, bad driving habits (device using, eating, grooming, etc.) should be avoided by all vehicle operators . . . And you never know who might be watching.
- Give advice. Don't be afraid to offer unsolicited driving lessons to your kids. Even if you feel like you're nagging, raising safety-minded, non-distracted drivers is well worth enduring all of the eye-rolling and complaining. No, they don't like being told what to do. But when it comes to driving, they absolutely must be told (and often) exactly what to do.
The news that teenager drivers are on the rise is not entirely bad news. It takes practical knowledge to become a good driver, but it also takes time and experience. Getting kids behind the wheel as teenagers may sound like a scary prospect, but it will give them more time to learn how to be responsible adult drivers.
Buying a Car for Your Teen
If you have a new driver in your home, it may be time to purchase an additional car for your family. And you may be pleased to know that Auto Credit Express can make the vehicle buying process quick and easy. Even if you have credit issues, we can connect you with a dealer in your area who is qualified to get you approved for an affordable auto loan.
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