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Teen driving accidents: lack of experience is critical, P.1

In the battle against teen driving accidents, should the emphasis be on law enforcement or on proper training?

Contrary to what some may believe, aggression is not a major cause of teen driving accidents. Recent research conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention shows that fatal car accidents among teens are mostly caused by common errors that are largely related to lack of experience.

Reportedly, the leading cause of error was failure to scan the traffic ahead of one’s vehicle, which accounts for 21percent of serious accidents. Driver distraction was another major error, and contributes to roughly 20 percent of serious accidents.

The primary skill that teens are often deficient in is the practice of scanning ahead of immediate traffic and looking to the sides of the vehicle to anticipate from side to side to check for other vehicles. This skill, which is generally considered a high-level skill which is developed over time, isn’t usually focused on in driving schools. According to traffic safety consultant Pam Fischer, driving schools all too often focus on getting teens trained as quickly and as cheaply as possible, but would likely be better drivers if school put more emphasis on intensive training.

Allison Curry, the lead researcher, said the study “helps dispel the myth that most teen crashes are due to aggressive driving or thrill-seeking.” Curry also said, “Promoting safe driving skills is as important as preventing problem behaviors.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue.

Source:, “Road Warrior: Novice errors, not rage, causes most teen road deaths,” John Cichowski, 22 April 2011.

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