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Virginia Tech researchers find novice teen drivers easily fall into distraction, accidents
Date:1/1/2014

Teens may begin their driving habits with great caution, but as months behind the wheel pass, they begin to multi-task at higher frequency rates dialing cell phones, eating, and talking to passengers, etc. and therefore greatly raise their risk of crashes and/or near-crash incidents.

These findings from a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development appear in the Jan. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Novice drivers are more likely to engage in high-risk secondary tasks more frequently over time as they became more comfortable with driving," said Charlie Klauer, group leader for teen risk and injury prevention at the transportation institute's Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety and first author of the article. "The increasingly high rates of secondary task engagement among newly licensed novice drivers in our study are worrisome as this appears to be an important contributing factor to crashes or near-crashes."

Traffic studies site that drivers from 15 years to 20 years of age represent 6.4 percent of all motorists on the road, but account for 11.4 percent of fatalities and 14 percent of police-reported crashes resulting in injuries.

Interaction with cell phones and other handheld electronic devices have garnered the most public and media interest, but even the simplest distractions can put a young driver at risk.

In the New England Journal of Medicine study, titled "Distracted Driving and Risk of Crashes Among Novice and Experienced Drivers," Klauer and her research team found that likely dangerous distractions for new drivers versus experienced motorists inclu
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Contact: Steven Mackay
smackay@vt.edu
540-231-4787
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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