Teenagers really don’t know how to drive, says a new study.
It’s not because their brains aren’t fully developed or because they have too many hormones in their bodies, but simply because they lack the experience of older drivers.
This lack of experience led to the deaths of 2,650 teen drivers and the injuring of 292,000 more in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Drivers are most likely to crash during the first few months after getting their license.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States, and that’s what prompted Philadelphia researchers to pit new drivers against experienced drivers in a simulated road test.
During the test, teen drivers crashed, ran off the road, or rear-ended the car in front of them 40 percent more often than their older counterparts, researcher Flaura K. Winston told 23 ABC News.
“When we put new drivers on the road without ensuring that they have the necessary skills to drive safely, why are we surprised when they crash? We shouldn’t be. Some haven’t developed the skills they need to navigate complex driving situations and are crashing due to error.”
During the simulated road test, teen drivers had trouble navigating left hand turns, followed too closely, didn’t look around enough, and were unable to properly assess dangerous situations.
Although the teen driver may have a license, use turn signals, and be able to drive in a straight line, they’re not able to anticipate and respond to danger, researchers found.
This lack of driving skill leads to driver error during crashes, say researchers, and it’s the basis for most graduated driving laws in the country.
Teen drivers are also more likely to be distracted by other people in the car, loud music, eating and drinking, or by using a cell phone to talk or text, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Researchers and the government agree teen drivers should always buckle their safety belts, stay sober, avoid driving at night or while tired, and not carry other teen passengers.
Parents are encouraged to keep their teen drivers safe by enforcing these guidelines.
For those parents who need some encouragement, AAA created a video that has since gone viral showing the dangers of distracted driving.
Maybe then they’ll avoid the tragedy one Australian family went through when their teen daughter was killed in a head on collision mere hours after earning her driver’s license.
[Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images]