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Study predicts teen's probability of getting into car accidents

Teenagers can't wait until they get their driver's licenses, but parents are always a little nervous to turn the keys over. Now a recent study shows that parents should indeed be nervous especially if while their teen is driving, they turn too sharply or screech to a stop, because these things can predict whether your teen will crash the car in the future.

The study was conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland. Researchers outfitted the cars of 42 new teen drivers with equipment that would record high g-force events, like quick starts and stops, and sharp turns. They monitored the drivers for 18 months and kept track of crashes or near crashes the teens had.

The results confirmed what researchers and parents already knew -- that teen drivers take more risks and don't always know how to handle certain situations. For every 100 miles the teens drove, the equipment showed that about 50 elevated g-force events were recorded. Of the 68,000 trips that were taken across the study, there were 37 car accidents and 242 near crashes while the teens were driving. In addition, when a teen had more g-force events, they had more crashes or near crashes in the next month.

Researchers want people to understand that these g-force events didn't necessarily cause a crash, but that it is a good predictor of a teen's pattern of driving and an indicator for predicting future crashes. This study does not prove whether having this system in a teen's car will reduce their chances of getting into an accident, but it does educate the teen driver on safe driving.

Studies like this give parents another reason to monitor their teens driving and coach them on the proper ways to handle a car in various situations. Parents and teens want the ritual of getting a license to be a positive one.

Source: Empowher.com, "Risky starts and stops predict teen crashes," Feb. 20, 2012

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