Forming good habits is essential for safe driving

Are teenagers who get their license early, such as in the 10th or 11th grade, incapable of safe driving?  Could they lack the psychosocial and cognitive development to practice the standard of care expected of everyone who gets behind the wheel?

A recent study explored a narrow slice of this issue, following the drinking or drugged driving habits of a national sample of teenagers. Researchers collected data from the teens in the tenth grade, and followed them through their senior year. Researchers specifically sought to examine the extent to which early licensure and/or poor role models might influence impaired driving choices in the teens.

The data suggests some connection between early licensing and drinking and driving habits. Researchers theorize that teens who get their licenses early might be more adventuresome, or willing to take risks, than peers who don’t start driving until their senior year or later.

In contrast, the connection between poor role models and teenager’s unsafe choices about drinking and/or drugged driving was very strong. In fact, in the case of teens that had confirmed being a passenger of an impaired driver in all three surveys, one researcher claims an increased likelihood of impaired driving by a factor of 120 times.

A personal injury attorney might suggest a more practical explanation: experience. Safe driving habits can be encouraged in a classroom setting, but it takes real life experience to put those lessons into practice. In that regard, the study found that teenagers who had been passengers of another impaired driver were much more likely to drink and drive themselves. Other drivers can make an impact on young drivers, often serving as role models.

Source: USA Today, “Riding with impaired drivers increases teens’ DUI risks,” Michelle Healy, Mar. 17, 2014

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