Teenage drivers are eight times more likely to be involved in a collision or near miss during the first three months after getting a driver's license, according to a study led by the National Institutes of Health.
Teens are also four times more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as rapid acceleration, sudden braking and hard turns during this period.
The study also shows that teens on a learner's permit drove more safely, with their crash and risky driving rates similar to those of adults.
“Given the abrupt increase in driving risks when teenagers start to drive independently, our findings suggest that they may benefit from a more gradual decrease in adult supervision during the first few months of driving alone,” said Bruce Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., senior investigator at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and one of the authors of the study.
The study enrolled 90 teenagers and 131 parents in Virginia, and the data collection system was developed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Blackburg.
When comparing male and female teens, the study found that the risky driving rate did not differ by gender during the learning period, but males had a higher risky driving rate when entering independent driving stages.
“During the learner’s permit period, parents are present, so there are some skills that teenagers cannot learn until they are on their own,” said Pnina Gershon, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “We need a better understanding of how to help teenagers learn safe driving skills when parents or other adults are not present.”