The Most Dangerous Time for Teen Drivers

Experience counts, especially behind the wheel, and a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds teens are much more likely to get into an accident during the first month of driving.

Foundation researchers looked at teen accident data from North Carolina from 2001 through 2008 and discovered that in their first month of unsupervised driving, teens were 50 percent more likely to crash than they were after a year on the road. They were nearly twice as likely to get into an accident during those first 30 days than they were after two years behind the wheel.

More than half of those early crashes, 57 percent of them, were due to three common mistakes: speeding, not paying attention and failing to yield to another vehicle.

There were some maneuvers that these newest drivers found challenging as well, such as left-hand turns. During their first few months of driving, crashes involving left-hand turns were common. But the study found teens quickly learned how to manage the turns, and those crash rates dropped off quickly as time went on.

Researchers installed video cameras in the cars of 38 new teen drivers and found that once teens were allowed to drive on their own, parents virtually vanished from the cars. Parents or adults were present in only 3 percent of the videos.

The videos also revealed teens talking and texting while driving and mistakenly running red lights.

The Foundation urges parents to continue to practice with teens, even after they have their license, to make sure they can drive safety in all kind of conditions.