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The leading cause of teen car accidents: inexperience

An old saying is that the best teacher is experience. Unfortunately, when it comes to driving, the lessons taught to inexperienced drivers can be tragic.

Driver inexperience is the leading cause of teen driver accidents in the U.S. This is because inexperience plays a role in almost all kinds of accidents. From distracted driving to slower reaction times, teen drivers often must learn first-hand the dangers that exist on the road before becoming more cautious drivers.

Inexperienced teen drivers more likely to take risks

Teens who have never been in an accident may not fully understand that looking down at a phone for only a few seconds can result in an accident. Young male teens are much more likely to speed than other segments of the population. And teens, while physically fit, still have reduced reactions times because of inexperience. The combination of inexperience and recklessness can be a deadly combination.

Teen drivers may also not have experience in navigating inclement weather conditions, such as snow, ice and rain. A national survey conducted five years ago found that the main causes of accidents due to inexperience were:

  • Lack of scanning the road/responding to hazards
  • Going too fast for road conditions
  • Distracted driving

What you can do for your teen

Every parent remembers what it is like to be a teenager. While there may be only so much we can do to reduce the risks inherent in driving, a few tools have been shown to help prevent accidents.

Parents concerned about their teen should plan on supervising their teen behind the wheel for at least 30 hours prior to letting them drive on their own. These hours should be in as many different driving circumstances as possible. You should plan on supervising your teen when he or she is first driving in snowy or icy conditions, even if your teen has been driving for awhile.

Limiting where a teen can drive can also be beneficial. You may initially restrict highway driving, for example, or driving with passengers in the vehicle. In particular, it is beneficial to restrict your teen's driving at night. Nighttime driving is a significant risk for teens.

Your teen may not appreciate having a parent in the car, or the restrictions on driving at night or in bad weather. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these small steps can go a long way toward reducing the risk for teen car accidents.

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