Many parents in Orange County would probably like to watch over their children during every minute of the day, just to make sure that they are doing well. Sending children off to school, letting them go to their friends' homes or even watching them go out on a date can come with gut-wrenching emotions for any parent. But for many parents, nothing is scarier than when their child gets his or her driver's license.
Without needing to sort through the statistics or listen to experts, parents know through experience and intuition that young drivers pose a substantial safety risk to themselves and to others. Indeed, the statistics do verify that notion. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 have a higher crash rate than any other age group. Moreover, that age group also has the highest rate of traffic violations.
An investigation by the California DMV points to a number of reasons why younger drivers have such poor safety records compared to other age groups. One reason is that teenagers have not yet developed the perceptual skills to identify potential dangers on the roadways. In addition, when they do detect such threats, these younger drivers tend to underestimate the magnitude of the danger. Similarly, younger drivers often engage in more risky driving behavior because they are over-confident in their driving abilities and do not appreciate the risks that they are taking.
Another factor that contributes to crashes amongst teenage drivers is their propensity to get distracted by other people in the car. For drivers between the ages of 16 and 17, the fatality risk is 3.6 times higher when they have passengers in the car, as opposed to when they are driving alone. Furthermore, the risk of crashing increases threefold when teenagers drive after 9:00 p.m. as opposed to earlier times during the day.
While many parents may take no comfort in reading these statistics, they cannot keep their children from driving just because of the risk of an auto accident. Instead, parents may be able to use these figures to help focus their teenaged children on ways to improve their driving and to avoid accidents.
Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles, "Teen Driver Crash Statistics," Accessed on Sept. 25, 2014