Teen drivers seen as more reckless with age as fear abates

Parents are encouraged to continue teaching their kids, even after they get licenses. (Photo: iStock) (Bloomberg) — U.S. teenagers are more reckless after their first few years of driving, often becoming overconfident in their abilities and putting themselves at higher risk for accidents, a new study shows. More than half of high school seniors have car accidents or near misses, compared with 34% of sophomores, according to the study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and the group Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). Related: 5 driving risks you need to talk about with your teens Misplaced confidence More people, including “hyper-connected” teenagers, are distracted by their phones while driving, and insurers are seeking to counter reckless behaviors amid an increase in car accidents in recent years. According to the study, 75% of high school seniors “feel confident” in their driving abilities, and 71% use a phone behind the wheel. The study said the misplaced confidence could stem from parents who taper off punishment for poor driving after their kids have a year or two of practice under their belts. Related: 10 safe and affordable cars for teen drivers “Older teens are still inexperienced drivers — even if they feel otherwise,” Mike Sample, lead driving-safety consultant at Liberty Mutual, said in the report. “Using an app behind the wheel, even glancing away for a second, can impair your driving ability and set off a chain reaction that could lead to a near miss or crash.” Phones aren’t the only issue. Driving while drowsy, speeding, having multiple passengers and browsing music become more prevalent as new drivers gain confidence. Driving behavior Changing music via phone or app 26% Sophomores 32% Juniors 40% Seniors Having 3+ passengers 31% Sophomores 35% Juniors 47% Seniors Speeding 18% Sophomores 23% Juniors 35% Seniors Driving when drowsy 13% Sophomores 15% Juniors 26% Seniors Sam Bessette, a 16-year-old from Topeka, Kansas, said she sticks her phone in the cupholder of her 2009 Ford Escape while she drives. “My mom is very against it,” Bessette said of distracted driving, “despite the fact she uses her phone all the time. But she tells me she’ll take my car.” Related: 7 back-to-school driving safety tips Bessette said she’s a “fairly good” driver, and her friends trust her behind the wheel. She was in a fender bender once, when the driver in front of her slammed on his brakes. She said she’d just barely glanced away to change the radio station and didn’t have enough time to react. Teens naturally gains confidence as they drive more Dr. Gene Beresin, a senior adviser on adolescent psychiatry at SADD, said teens naturally gain confidence as they drive more. “As a result, it is even more important for parents and teens to have conversations about safe driving practices to avoid potentially putting themselves and others at risk on the road,” Beresin said in the report. Related: 10 states with the highest cost of adding a teen to an auto policy Liberty Mutual, the third-largest U.S. property-casualty insurer, surveyed almost 3,000 teens from high schools across the country and 1,000 parents of young drivers for the study. The insurer encourages parents to continue teaching their kids, even after they get licenses. Also, adults can use tracking devices that monitor driver habits and reward teens for safety behind the wheel, the Boston-based company said. Copyright 2017 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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