Young drivers, particularly those in their teens, have a number of risk factors that impact their safety on the road.
- Poor hazard detection: The ability to detect hazards in the driving environment relies heavily on information-gathering skills. Drivers have to properly identify potential threats to avoid accidents. It takes time for novice drivers to develop this skill.
- Low risk perception: Young novice drivers tend to underestimate the crash risk in hazardous situations and overestimate their ability to avoid accidents.
- Risk taking: Teenagers tend to take more risks while driving due to overconfidence in their driving abilities. Young novice drivers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like speeding, tailgating, running red lights, violating traffic signs and signals, making illegal turns, passing dangerously, and failing to yield to pedestrians.
- Lack of skill: Novice teenage drivers have not yet mastered the basic vehicle handling skills and safe-driving knowledge they need to drive safely.
- Alcohol and drug use: Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a common cause of serious crashes involving teenage drivers. Teenagers who drink and drive are at much greater risk of serious crashes than are older drivers with equal concentrations of alcohol in their blood.
- Distraction: For teenagers, the risk of being in a crash increases when they transport passengers. The fatality risk of drivers aged 16-17 years is 3 times higher when they are driving with passengers than when they are driving alone. Passengers who are age peers may distract teen drivers and encourage them to take more risks, especially for young males riding with young male drivers.
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- Night Driving: Night driving is more difficult, and teens have less experience driving at night than during the day. There is speculation that teens are less aware when they are sleep deprived, adding to the fact that recreational driving and use of alcohol is more likely to occur at night.