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New study links new drivers to more car accidents

Citing loud music, peer pressure and the presence of teen passengers, a new study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has revealed that drivers who have only had their licenses for a month are far more likely to be involved in a car accident.

The study was conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Research Center. Researchers compiled data from 2001 through 2008, particularly focusing on auto accidents involving teen drivers. The study was released just in time for National Teen Driver Safety Week, and researchers hope that the information will remind teen drivers to practice safe driving habits in order to ensure their safety and the safety of others on our North Carolina roads.

According to the study, teen drivers are 50 percent more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident within the first 30 days of having their license than they will be after a full year of driving on their own. Unfortunately, with the higher risk of being involved in a crash, these young drivers are also at a higher risk of dying in a car accident.

In 2009, at least 2,300 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed after being involved in a car accident in the United States. Males accounted for more than 70 percent of the deaths.

Why are teens more likely to be involved in a car accident within the first month of driving? One spokesman for AAA said that teens simply don't have enough life experience or time behind the wheel to always make the best judgments on the road. Others suggest that teens are more likely to adopt bad driving habits when their parents are no longer in the car with them. Teenagers can also be distracted by cell phones, loud music and their peers.

According to the study, the top three mistakes teens make when driving are: failing to slow down when necessary, failing to yield and failing to pay close attention.

Accidents are a common occurrence on our Fayetteville roads, but studies like this one illustrate the importance of responsible driving. Many accidents can be prevented when drivers pay attention to what they are doing and when they abide by traffic laws. Failing to take one's driving responsibilities seriously will only lead to the possibility of harming others on the road.

Source: The Washington Post, "Teen drivers most likely to crash in first month of solo driving," Mark Berman, Oct. 15, 2011

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