Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teens OK drivers--at first

With the lack of driver's ed, and the hodgepodge of state learning requirements, most teens start out driving cautiously.

Then they get cocky, and begin to multitask. Dialing cells, eating, gabbing with passengers, even texting (illegal many places).The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and National Institutes of Child Health and Development published on this in the New England J of Med, Jan 2.

Drivers from 15 to 20 represent 6.4% of all drivers on the road, but account for 11.4% of fatalities and 14% of crashes resulting in the police and injury.

Cell phone use gets the worst rap, but eating and looking at things out the window are just as bad.

Anything that takes the driver's eyes off the road (or the hands off the wheel) is a risk.

The researchers compared a 100-car study of drivers between 18 and 72 with 20 years' experience with an 18-month study of 42 teens who had licenses less than 3 weeks. They outfitted the latter cars with cameras and video.

For the first six months, the novices engaged in secondary tasks less than the more experienced drivers. But by month 7-15, they matched them, and then passed them in months 16-18.

Well, cut it out! I could be in the other car. The life you save could be your own--or your little brother's or your best friend's.

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