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Teen drivers become more dangerous after obtaining licenses

Most teen drivers in Oklahoma are excited about the idea of being behind the wheel on their own after they get their full license. However, a joint study by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and Virginia Tech University suggests first-time drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash or accident during their first few months as a new driver. Using special equipment and software, researchers evaluated nearly a hundred teens from the period when they first received their learner's permit to a year after they got their license.

The study showed that teens are eight times more likely to be involved with car accidents or near-miss collisions during their first three months of driving without adult supervision. This is in comparison to the previous three months, when teens were required to have an adult in the vehicle. Specifically, unsupervised teen drivers are more likely to accelerate quickly, brake abruptly or overextend on turns. These risky behaviors did eventually decrease, although the instances of crashes did not.

Researchers noted that teens were more likely to drive safer during bad weather and at night than adult drivers were. It's during optimal driving conditions in daylight and clear weather when teens tend to exhibit riskier driving behaviors. One solution to this problem that the study's co-author suggested is to gradually decrease adult supervision during the first few months when teens are able to drive alone. According to another study, car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens 14 to 19 years of age.

If a teen driver's risky behavior contributes to injuries sustained by other drivers or pedestrians, a personal injury lawyer may consider how well a first-time driver performed during his or her learner's permit period and whether he or she were involved in other car accidents or near-misses while driving independently. Depending on the extent of injuries sustained, affected parties may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and emotional distress.

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