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Driver Errors Explain Most Teen Crashes, Experts Say
Date:4/13/2011

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For parents with teen drivers or those about to drive, the study has some practical applications, Curry said.

"The study really points to specific skills that parents can work on with their teens when teaching them how to drive," Curry said. She recommends that parents do the following:

  • Teach teen drivers to scan. Encourage them to look far ahead of the car and to the left and right to be aware of the environment, she said.
  • Reduce distractions by restricting use of electronic devices such as cell phones, she said, and making sure passengers are not disruptive.
  • Work on speed control. Besides obeying the speed limit, teens must learn how to manage speed for road conditions, traffic or weather, Curry said.

Overall, Curry said, the study ''breaks the myth that crashes occur due only to aggressive driving."

By providing specific crash information, the study suggests a need for more effective interventions to improve driving skills, such as hazard awareness training, said Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago. She reviewed the study findings for HealthDay.

The finding that teen driver error explains most crashes is also helpful, she said. "Even just being aware of this fact may help teens drive more carefully," she said.

However, safe driving takes more than awareness. She suggested working with teen drivers to improve skills they lack and enlisting driver training programs to help address those skills.

The new research builds on some previous work by the National Safety Council, said John Ulczycki, group vice president of strategic initiatives for the council. A council analysis found driver-related factors reported in more than 70 percent of fatal crashes involving young drivers.

Curry's work builds on this, he said, by providing some valuable details about the specific types of errors.

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