Getting a driver’s license is a common coming-of-age ritual for adolescents across the United States, but road accidents are also the leading cause of teenage mortality. According to a recent experiment in 2015, teens were observed throughout a 35-minute driving simulation, which put participants through 22 different scenarios. Lead Researcher Catherine McDonald, Ph.D., R.N., from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia detailed that 42.9 percent of teens between the ages of 16 and 19 who received their driver’s license within the past three months experienced at least one collision in the simulation, compared to 29.4 percent of adult drivers.
Distracted driving affects everyone
It is also important to know that the consequences of adolescent driving accidents affect more than the just the teen behind the wheel. A 2015 investigation from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety compiled crashes between 1994 and 2013 involving drivers from 15 to 19 years old. Its results showed that 67 percent of people injured and 66 percent of those killed in crashes involving teen drivers are people in the other cars.
Another prevalent problem regarding teenage drivers is their susceptibility to drive while under the influence. While the issue of underage drinking and driving is well known and still perpetrated by one in 10 high school students, a new driving danger is the steady rise of drugged driving. In the 2011 study, “Substance-related traffic-risk behaviors among college students,” a research team found that approximately 17 percent of students had driven under the influence of some type of drug within the past year. More precise findings listed marijuana as the most common drug used behind the wheel.
In addition, results of the 2013 study, “Driving after drug or alcohol use by US high school seniors,” showed that this trend occurred among even younger demographics. Specifically, 12.4 percent of 12th-grade students had driven after using marijuana within the previous two-week period. In many cases, teenagers consume marijuana and alcohol concurrently. Lastly, Yvonne Terry-McElrath of the University of Michigan led a study analyzing surveys from over 72,000 high school seniors and found that those who used both substances simultaneously had a 90 percent likelihood to get a traffic ticket and were 50 percent more likely to be part of a traffic collision.
Proclaiming new drivers
In terms of reducing the rate of harm and death on the road, a recent report entitled, “Association between New Jersey’s Graduated Driver Licensing decal provision and crash rates of young drivers with learners’ permits,” scholars from Pennsylvania and Michigan state universities found that current strategies that consist of identifying teen drivers with learning permits, who may not be experienced navigators, did not show a significant reduction in crashes. In contrast, placing warning labels on new drivers’ licenses did show a marked drop in related incidents. Graduated licensing has also been shown to be an effective safety measure, decreasing teen crashes by 10 to 30 percent.
Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a specialized facility that can help adolescents with their respective mental health, substance abuse and dual diagnosis issues and foster well-being. Call to speak with a professional today.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer