Teen crash risk spikes when they trade in permit for license

A new study says that newly licensed teenage drivers are far more likely to crash than permit drivers.

One of the most momentous days in many teenagers' lives is getting their driving license. While a license can bring with it a newfound sense of freedom and responsibility, for many teenagers it may also mean a dramatic increase in their chances of engaging in risky driving behaviors. That's because, as Reuters reports, the likelihood of teens being involved in a car accident is the highest during those first few months when they have their new license. The spike, researchers say, is largely because teens are driving for the first time without their parents supervising them.

Permit vs. licensed drivers

The study, conducted by the Institutes of Health, followed nearly 100 teen drivers who had an average age of 16. The researchers used in-car cameras and sensors to help detect crashes and risky driving behaviors both during the teens' permit stage of driving and during the first few months when they became fully licensed.

The difference between the permit stage and the licensed stage was startling. Teens who were driving with permits exhibited risky driving behaviors, like speeding, sudden breaking, and swerving, about as often as adult drivers did. However, when those teens became fully licensed, their risky driving behaviors spiked dramatically. During the first year when they had their licenses, teen drivers had crash rates six times higher than adults. The study found that teens had 108 risky driving events per driver over the course of the study, compared to 59 risky driving events per adult driver.

Parents play the key role

The reason teen permit holders seem to be much more cautious drivers than licensed teens seems to be due to one factor: parents. During the permit stage of driving, teens typically have a parent in the car with them who can guide them through driving and help them avoid risky situations. The mere presence of a parent is also likely to deter teens from trying to engage in any risky behaviors. When those teens become fully licensed, they are no longer accompanied by their parents and their crash risk rises accordingly.

Research has long shown that teens are more likely to engage in risky driving than their parents are. As the CT Post reports, a separate study has found that teens have a higher risky driving rate during favorable (i.e., dry and sunny) conditions than unfavorable ones. That study also found that while during the permit stage both male and female drivers had similar risky driving rates, during the licensed period the risky driving rate became much higher for males.

Personal injury law

Anybody who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Virginia should reach out to the Law Offices of Daniel L. Crandall & Associates for help. Their team of experienced personal injury attorneys can help injured clients make sense of their legal options and potentially help them pursue whatever financial claims they may have a right to.