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Study: Teens practice safer driving habits following serious collisions

Studies of teen driving behaviors have long demonstrated that while their risk of being involved in serious accidents is highest in the period immediately after they start driving on their own, this risk abates over time owing to what is assumed to be the gaining of experience and maturation.

Interestingly, a group of researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health set out to examine if another circumstance outside of age and experience might also encourage teens to drive more safely over the course of time: prior involvement in a serious accident.

As part of the study, the NIH researchers gathered data on 254 16- and 17-year-old drivers taking part in a different government driving study that saw their vehicles equipped with both cameras to record their real-time driving and devices to measure their acceleration.

After narrowing their research to teens who had been involved in severe accidents reported to the police (i.e., those resulting in airbag deployment, rollovers, injuries, significant damage), they discovered a remarkable trend concerning changes in driving behaviors.

Specifically, the data captured by the in-vehicle devices revealed that teens were 34 percent less likely to execute so-called high-acceleration events, such as fast stops, turns or other aggressive maneuvers, for at least two months after their serious crash. Furthermore, while the incidence rate of high-acceleration events crept back up after this time, it nevertheless remained below pre-accident levels.   

In light of their rather illuminating research, and the ready availability of before-and-after data thanks to the aforementioned federal driving study, the researchers indicated they would be expanding their study to determine whether a similar trend can be observed among teen drivers after involvement in less serious crashes.

This is a truly fascinating and eye-opening study. Here's hoping it results in the development of better teaching tools for teen drivers.     

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options if you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one because of the reckless actions of another motorist.

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