Why Can’t Young Drivers Drive
This danger however stems from a plethora of smaller decisions made leading up to an ultimately dangerous combination. Taking into account that the standard for getting a license is sub par in the United States, it is also important to see the issues that young drivers bring upon themselves when driving. It is well known that seatbelts are very effective in reducing serious injuries when involved in an accident. For some reason however, the same age group involved in the largest percentage of car accidents is also the age group which is least likely to be wearing a seatbelt while driving. When younger children drive with their parents, it is almost guaranteed that the parents make sure their children have their seat belt fastened. In fact, in a survey conducted by McCartt, Shabanova, and Leaf, they found that “The restrictions most commonly imposed by parents were no drinking and driving (90%) and no driving without using a seat belt (73%)”. Being the second largest concern however does not stop these young drivers, which contributes to the larger proportion of fatal accidents in young drivers compared to other age groups.
While not using the safety equipment on a car is one thing, we also see that the cars that young drivers drive tend to be older, and less safe than other age groups. Almost every teen driver who gets a car is given, or buys, a less expensive older vehicle. This pretty much stems from the common knowledge that young drivers are not good drivers, and are expected to get into an accident sooner than later. In fact, according to McCartt, Shabanova, and Leaf “The crash rate per 100 licensed drivers was 5.9 for the first month of licensure and 3.4 for the second month; the rate varied from 1.3 to 3.0 for the subsequent 10 months”. While many parents do not use this exact statistic, the expectation is there that a young driver will get into an accident. This in turn becomes a large factor when deciding on what car to purchase. Because of this, young drivers tend to drive older smaller cars than other age groups. Well, the effect of this is almost self explanatory. Smaller cars are more likely to sustain more damage in an accident than larger cars, and older cars have less safety gizmos than newer ones. Being almost set up for failure, we see that the car choice made by parents inadvertently puts these young drivers at a higher risk of sustaining serious or even fatal injuries when involved in an accident. Along with the fact that these vehicle choices contribute to the danger faced, a study conducted by Cammisa, Williams, and Leaf also showed that teenagers who own their own car drive more miles, exhibit more risky behaviors, and are involved in more crashes than those who share a vehicle.
Going back to the young driver themself however, the use of cellphones while driving is possibly the largest issue contributing to carelessness on the road. Arguably the most important device in a teenager’s life is their cell phone, with almost constant use among the age group. This unfortunately translates to cell phone use while driving, leading to an increase in distracted young drivers. In fact, according to the NHTSA “A disproportionate amount of MVCs related to distracted driving involve teenagers: although they comprise 6% of all drivers killed in MVCs, teenagers account for 10% of all drivers determined to be distracted at the time of a crash and 11% of all drivers killed in crashes related to documented cellphone use“. That is not surprising seeing as a nationally representative survey of 1,243 high school students, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that 83% reported engaging in electronic device use while driving at least once in the last 30 days. That statistic seems ridiculous, but is it really surprising? These younger drivers do not go a day without worrying about what is happening online, but do not appear to worry about themselves and others on the roads. Cell phone use while driving is an ongoing problem, taking away critical time needed to react in serious situations, oftentimes being the difference between causing and avoiding an accident among young drivers. Although there have been countless attempts to educate and mitigate the amount of cellphone use while driving among all drivers, it appears that once again the rebellious mentality of the youngest drivers blocks the messages from achieving their goal.
With not one positive coming from what young, inexperienced, and uneducated drivers bring to public roads, there is only one solution: don’t let it happen. Don’t let these drivers have the ability to drive amongst those who have matured and gained the experience to properly and safely operate vehicles. Maybe a reality check and a harsh awakening is what is necessary to prevent the unproportional accident rates that this age group is involved in. Giving it some time, the urge to drive may finally cause these drivers to learn the proper skills needed to safely operate a car. While it may seem extreme, this measure of restriction may finally be the breakthrough needed to prevent the countless innocent lives being lost on the roads we all share. Such a proposition alone may make these drivers think twice before heading out on the road, because they never know, it could be their last trip.
Ferguson, S. A. (2002, December 24). Other high-risk factors for young drivers-how graduated licensing does, doesn’t, or could address them. Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437502000828#BIB2
McCartt, A. T., Shabanova, V. I., & Leaf, W. A. (2002, February 01). Driving experience, crashes and traffic citations of teenage beginning drivers. Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457502000064?casa_token=KqGitS-PDJsAAAAA:p5WDIgF-qN7sqDDqEEFSxfeSwZsgcIEB7i-EOVe10VCnh2KRU7LLR-D7TWktJwj240uG6ALf1MU
Office of Highway Policy Information – Policy: Federal Highway Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2008/dl20.cfm