Teen drivers in Virginia may be more likely to cause car accidents in the first few months after they get their driver's licenses, according to one recent study. Conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Virginia Tech, the study placed dashcams inside teen drivers' cars to monitor the drivers and the roads. Software was installed to check acceleration and braking. All participants were monitored from the time they received their learner's permits until the end of their first year as licensed drivers. While teens have learner's permits, they must be accompanied by an adult when driving, but they can drive alone once they receive their licenses.
The differences were striking. Newly licensed teens in their first three months of driving solo were eight times more likely to have a car accident or a near-miss during that time than they were in the last three months of accompanied driving with a permit. The researchers found that teen drivers were likely to speed up too quickly, brake suddenly and turn sharply, leading to the possibility of a car accident. While the teens were actually safer drivers than adults were during the night hours and bad or rainy weather, they were dramatically more dangerous during clear, sunny days.
Over the course of their first year of licensed driving, the teens' dangerous behaviors declined substantially. Even so, the number of car accidents remained the same. The researchers noted that some form of a graduated solo driving period or stepped-up licensing may be important to increase roadway safety.
While teens who drive dangerously may just be getting a handle on the rules of the road, the consequences can be devastating for others who are injured as a result. A personal injury lawyer can help motor vehicle accident victims pursue compensation, including medical bills and lost wages, for the damages they suffer due to someone else's negligent driving.