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Risky Business: California Looks At What Makes New Drivers Dangerous and How To Make Our Roads Safer

If you drive, you’ve been there: The inevitably dangerous status of “new driver”. It’s obvious that inexperience behind the wheel leads to higher accident and mortality rates.  Let’s find out why this is, and how exactly can we protect ourselves(and our new drivers) against the common errors associated with being a newby.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States. During their first six months of solo driving, newly-licensed drivers are about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than are more experienced drivers. You may have noticed the correlation between the the regulations in the  California Drivers’ Handbook and what is presented in these statistics. California driving laws are aimed to reduce injuries and save lives, so they have been altered over time to target higher risk activity. That’s why for the first year any new driver under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian while driving passengers under the age of 18 AND anytime driving between 11pm and 5am. (Night driving is more dangerous than driving in the daylight hours.)

Yes, it can be painfully agonizing to be stripped of your true independence  after finally turning 16 and getting your drivers’ license. And for parents, it can be equally frustrating shuttling and chaperoning your teen for yet another year.  But it’s worth being the “lame” parent over the cool parent on this battle.

Below we explain what the California DMV teaches us about what factors go into teenagers being more dangerous drivers.

Poor hazard detection – It takes time and experience for a young driver to acquire this skill.

Low risk perception – Young novice drivers tend to underestimate the crash risk in hazardous situations and overestimate their ability to avoid threats.

Risk Taking – Teenagers tend to take more risks while driving partly due to their overconfidence in their driving abilities. This includes risky behaviors likes speeding, tailgating running lights and stop signs.

Not wearing seat belts – Teenagers tend to wear safety belts less often than older drivers.

Lack of skill – Novice drivers have not yet completely mastered basic vehicle handling skills to drive safely.

Alcohol and drugs -Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a common cause of serious crashes, especially fatal ones, involving teenage driver

Carrying passengers – For teenagers, the risk of being in a crash increases when they transport passengers.

Night driving – The crash rate for teenaged drivers is 3 times higher after 9:00pm

If you’re an experience driver you can protect yourself on the road by practicing defensive driving.  RoadTrip America has a list of 70 tips for defensive driving. We’ve summarized a few of the most important tips here:

  • Be aware and alert

  • Don’t speed

  • Always signal

  • Don’t tailgate – Inexperienced drivers tend to leave little time to react.

  • Stay out of blind spots – Checking blind spots isn’t second nature to new drivers yet.

Even as the best defensive and most experienced drivers, we’re still at the mercy of other motorists on the road. Accidents can and will continue to occur.  Some will be minor fender benders, and others will be tragic. If you or a loved one is involved in a serious car accident resulting in injuries, property and vehicle damage or death, contact the law offices of Nelson Barry to consult with a personal injury lawyer.

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