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Throughout the U.S., teen drivers face stricter laws and restrictions than more experienced drivers. And why not? Teen drivers have been found to cause much higher rates of accidents than adult drivers. However, a groundbreaking new study conducted by the University of California at Los Angeles claims that teen drivers are in fact better than their adult counterparts at the technical aspects of driving. So why all of the haters?
Well, because despite being better drivers, teens are still more likely to cause accidents, that’s why. The UCLA study found that “younger novice drivers (especially males) had better driving skills than older novice drivers. This is counter to popular belief that young drivers lack technical driving skills because they have less experience behind the wheel.” Yet due to inexperience and good old fashioned teenage recklessness, teen drivers are much more likely to be involved in an accident, even when they weren’t at fault. Being skilled and capable with the controls of the vehicle itself do not a good driver make; teens and novice drivers are often less familiar with dangerous situations or road conditions. The study’s authors imply that the teen attention span is thus likely at fault in most teen auto accidents:
Based on the results of the current study, we hypothesize that the relatively high accident rate of younger drivers (especially male drivers) is most likely due to inattention to safety considerations rather than lack of technical driving ability.
Video games have no doubt had an influence in leading to the increased technical driving ability, but the decline of state-funded drivers education classes has no doubt led to the inattention to safety considerations mentioned. Do teens need to spend more time learning about road safety than actually learning to control their vehicles? Or should we all just cross our fingers until autonomous vehicles become the norm?