Many Teen Drivers Don't Think They're Inexperienced

There is a solution for inexperienced drivers, Ginsburg said. "That solution is graduated driver's licenses, where exposures to dangerous situations are minimized while teens continue to gain experience," he said. "Making sure the kids learned one step at a time, until they gain experience, will save many lives."

Graduated driver's licenses limit teens from driving during certain times of the day or carrying young passengers. These restrictions can be state-mandated or enforced by parents, Ginsburg said.

Listening to teens can help in learning how to communicate better with them, Ginsburg added. "When we know how teenagers think and we use their understanding of what is dangerous to help them understand how to be safer, we might get our messages across much more effectively," he said.

Another expert agreed.

"Parents of teen drivers often finding themselves saying to them: 'What were you thinking?'" said Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of Injury Prevention and Research at Children's Memorial Hospital and medical director of Injury Free Coalition for Kids in Chicago.

"Thanks to this paper, we are beginning to understand how teens perceive risk of motor vehicle crashes," Sheehan said. "By better understanding the teens' perspective, we can develop safe teen driving messages and interventions that resonate with teens," she said.

More information

For more on teen driving, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Kenneth R. Ginsburg, M.D., Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia; Karen Sheehan, M.D., medical director, Injury Prevention and Research, Children's Memorial Hospital, and medical director, Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Chicago; May 2008, Pediatrics

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