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Study defines critical errors teen drivers make

A recent study by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies hones in on the most common errors teen drivers make that lead to a serious crash. These include failing to recognize potential hazards soon enough and driving too fast for ambient conditions.
Posted: April 12, 2011 - 6:15PM
Author: Don Bain


Researchers analyzed a nationally-representative database of more than 800 accidents involving teen drivers, identifying common critical errors often leading up to a crash. Seventy-five percent result from a critical driving error, with three specific blunders accounting for nearly half of all serious crashes.

Teen drivers are involved in fatal crashes at four times the rate of adults. The findings were published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

These critical errors include:

• The failure to scan the immediate and approaching environment adequately to detect and respond to hazards was at fault in 21 percent of such incidents.

• Going too fast for ambient road conditions, including driving too fast to successfully navigate a curve or properly respond to the actions of other drivers accounted for another 21 percent of crashes.

• Then there’s the old standby we all know about – being distracted by something inside or outside – like dropping a lit cigarette in your lap or staring at beautiful people – causes another 20 percent of accident reports.

Researchers noted poor weather, vehicular malfunction, aggressive driving, or physical impairments, such as drowsy driving, were rarely the root cause of such events.

"This study helps dispel the myth that most teen crashes are due to aggressive driving or thrill-seeking," said Allison Curry, Ph.D., lead author and a researcher at CHOP's Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP). "Promoting safe driving skills is as important as preventing problem behaviors."

For more information about the study, click here.