According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, traffic accidents are the foremost cause of teenage death in the United States. Why are teens such a high risk group? This question will be answered by considering four important factors that contribute to the high teen mortality rates on the road.
Older adults have spent thousands of hours on the road and have been exposed to a wide variety of traffic situations. As a result of this vast driving experience, their driving skills and reflexes are well honed. These long hours of driving also result in good instincts that enable them to recognize and readily cope with many potentially dangerous situations.
The driving classes and tests required for a teen to get a driving license does not come close to the vast road experience that the older adult has under their belt. This inexperience means that operating a car, negotiating road hazards, and dealing with the unexpected are not second nature for teens. Inexperience causes teens to underestimate or even fail to recognize dangerous driving situations.
Lack Of Maturity
Studies on brain development have established that the human brain does not fully mature until the mid-20s. The part of the brain that inhibits impulses and enables one to plan, make decisions, and form judgments are not fully developed in a teen.
Teens are also more susceptible to peer pressure and are more likely to do something risky when friends are present than when they are alone. This is why the risk of getting into an accident is much greater when a teen driver has a number of teen passengers with him.
Proliferation Of Distracting Technology
Mobile phone use by teens is growing every year. Being connected with their peers via the mobile phone has become the norm for teens. Unfortunately this need to be connected does not stop when they get into a car. Mobile phone usage while driving is not limited to teens. Many adults also have this problem and have been in accidents as a result. However the teen’s lack of experience increases this risk.
Lack Of Seat Belt Use
Roughly 55% of teens aged between 13 and 20 who died in car accidents in 2012 were not wearing seat belts. Seat belt use among teens is lower than any other age group. Seat belt use drops even further when teens in a car consume alcohol.