Street Safe Teens: Risky Business

By: Bailey Disselkoen Email
By: Bailey Disselkoen Email

November 14, 2011

Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for teens nationwide. However, it is not because they are beginners, or because they lack experience it has to do with gravitational forces.

Call it a force to be reckoned with, even experienced teen drivers are four times more likely to get into a car crash than their parents, and gravity may be to blame.

Teen driving expert Bruce Simons-Morton just published a study in the American Journal of Public Health, he shared his findings at the YouthNex Conference on UVa grounds.

Simons-Morton found teens are five times more likely to take risks when they drive, he measured those risks through G Forces. That is the same force used to measure the acceleration of a roller coaster.

Teens generally use more G Forces than their parents. That means they are more likely to brake harder, make sharper turns and speed through intersections. Those factors contribute to the high number of crash rates in younger drivers.

"It only takes an hour to learn how to manage the vehicle, but it takes years to learn how to be a safe driver. Crash rates decline rapidly but over a period of years not immediately," explained Simons-Morton.

Simons-Morton says he will use his study to change policy and parenting. He thinks teens should get their driver's licenses at an older age.

Parents can also play a part, enforcing their own road rules to make sure their kids stay focused behind the wheel.

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