The Biggest Risk for Teenage Drivers Isn’t Alcohol, Speed or Lack of Seat Belt Use

There is a tremendous danger that teenage drivers face on a regular basis and despite what many people have previously believed, it has nothing to do with drinking, speeding or failing to use a seat belt.  According to a recent national 10-year study on highway deaths, it has to do with nighttime driving.  Driving after dark is the biggest hazard for teenage drivers.

The study was performed by the Texas Transportation Institute.  Researchers analyzed the traffic fatality rates from 1999 to 2008.  During this time period, the number of traffic deaths actually went down across the nation, with the exception of nighttime fatalities.  This issue caused researchers to delve deeper.  Apparently the answer they came up with had to do with teenage drivers using cell phones at night.

“Everything points in the same direction for this age group, and that it is due to the use of cell phones behind the wheel.  Whenever you combine the nighttime danger and the cell phone danger with inexperience, you have created a perfect storm,” said Bernie Fette, one of the authors of the study.  Fette went on to say in an article in the Washington Post that teenagers are very comfortable with cell phones in their hands and this level of comfort can lead to a false sense of security.

Teens require more sleep than drivers who are in older age groups. When a fatigued teenage driver gets behind the wheel, it’s similar to being intoxicated.  Combining this risk with the high level of cell phone use among this age group, the outcome can be deadly.

The lesson that can be learned from this study – teen drivers need to put away their cell phones and pay attention to the road.
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