Are We Licensing Teens to Drive Without Adequate Training?

Even with driver’s education courses and a year’s worth of behind-the-wheel practice, a new study recently released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (FTS) indicates that many teens still do not have the skills necessary to safely drive in a number of road conditions. Despite that, about one-third of teens are still getting their drivers’ licenses within one month of being legally eligible to do so, meaning that countless teen drivers hit the road each year without the ability to handle their vehicles properly.

The FTS data, compiled as part of a research study performed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, came from observing 50 families around the state, each of which had at least one teen driver in the house. The researchers found that very little, if any, parental instruction was being given. Most parents allowed their teens to drive but, in lieu of offering specific directions for how best to proceed, interacted with their children mainly to offer specific criticisms about things like the rate of speed or need to change lanes.

Furthermore, most parents (nearly 75 percent of those studied) did not give teens the opportunity to hone their driving skills in a number of different road and weather conditions, leaving teens to fend for themselves to develop confidence behind the wheel at night, on the highway or in inclement weather. The FTS and the National Safety Council (NSC) alike feel that parents are generally unaware of the risks involved in not giving proper hands-on training to their children, even though it is common knowledge that teen drivers are involved in more car accidents than any other demographic.

The FTS and NSC advise parents to commit to providing in-depth knowledge and adequate practice time to their teen drivers, giving teens the skills and confidence they need to hit the road. Regardless of whether it is your teen driving or someone else’s, the fact is that teenagers are much more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash with a teen driver, seek medical attention immediately, and then contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your rights and legal options.

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