The Future of Driver's Education in Preventing Auto Accidents


June 01, 2011

An increasing number of people are questioning whether driver education training for teens makes sense. This may sound crazy given that a teen driver is 10 times more likely to get in an auto accident as compared to an older driver.

It is not so much that the idea of driver education training is being questioned, but there is increasing concern over how it is structured and whether the training being offered is really having an impact on safety. The other question is whether or not these courses are actually teaching appropriate driving skills that are effective at helping teens avoid accidents.

A recent study brings the problem into focus. When a sample of 800 teen crashes involving teenage drivers was studied, it showed that almost two-thirds of the teen car accidents were due to 3 novice mistakes:

  • Failing to Scan the Road: 21 percent of teenage crashes are due to scanning mistakes. This include the failure to look ahead and around for risks. Teens misjudging the speed of oncoming cars while turning are also a problem.
  • Misjudging Driving Conditions: Another 21 percent of the crashes are due to misjudging road conditions. Many inexperienced teen drivers fail to slow down at curves or on slippery roads.
  • Distracting Drivers: 20 percent of teen driving crashes are due to driver distraction. Teens talking to other passengers are high on this list.

Some believe that if driver’s education programs focus on these particular problem areas that the programs could be made more effective and in the end produce safer teen drivers.

Tougher Driving Laws for Teens

Most states, over the last 10-15 years, have implemented tougher driving laws for teenagers. These tougher laws can be credited with a 30% drop in teenage highway fatalities.

Some examples of these programs include:

  • Graduated permit programs, which often delay learning permits until age 16 and require at least 6 months of instruction before a driver's test, have been shown to be effective restrictions.
  • A minimum requirement of 40-50 hours of parent-supervised instruction before a license is given.
  • Some programs delay the issuance of an unrestricted license until the age of 18. This can mean driving curfews and bans on teenage passengers during the interim.

Lack of Driving Experience

One of the big reasons for the high number of teen driving accidents is that teen drivers actually feel that when they get a driver's license that they are then "experienced" drivers. This leads to over-confidence regarding a teen’s perception of his or her actual driving ability.

This factor is reflected in the high number of deaths and injuries involving new drivers throughout the country. According to the CDC, almost 5,000 U.S. teens die from injuries caused by car crashes and another 400,000 teen drivers and passengers sustain injuries severe enough to require treatment in an emergency room in a typical year. Lack of driving experience continues to play a major role in teen injuries and fatalities.

The role that parents will play in improving safety and reducing accident risks in the future for teen driving cannot be overemphasized. New teen graduated driving programs are going to require that a young teen drive under the supervision of a parent, which provides a perfect opportunity for a parent to sensitize their child to different situations that they may encounter on roadways.

A parent should not hesitate at the appropriate time to take their teen out driving in inclement weather and challenge them to engage with their surroundings so they can learn how to scan for potential risks. Another way for parents to teach their children is to just have them in the car while they are driving and indicate potentially dangerous driving issues as they arise. Parents should obey speed limits and exercise safe driving practices because providing a good example can be an effective means to conditioning one’s children to the importance of safe driving practices.

In the end, we all have to keep looking at ways we can help our inexperienced teen drivers stay safe on the road. If that means making some changes in old systems or parents playing a more active role in driver education, then that is where the time should be spent.

For information about Georgia's TADRA graduated program for teen drivers, click here.

Serious Georgia auto accidents involving teen drivers still account for too many catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or suffered wrongful death in an auto accident with a teen driver, Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, will work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Our experienced Atlanta personal injury law firm has been representing those who suffer serious injury or wrongful death in Georgia auto accidents for over 27 years.

The Atlanta auto accident lawyers of Montlick and Associates are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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