Inexperience is the Leading Cause of Teen Crashes

Teens are only human. Like the rest of us, when we're learning to do something, we're bound to make common errors. Teens are no different when it comes to driving. The old cliché "practice makes perfect" may seem corny, but it's true.

The safest — and best — way for them to gain experience is to practice with you riding along with them frequently, monitoring their progress. Just 30 minutes a week with you as a passenger in the car can make a big difference.

Many states require a minimum number of practice hours before a novice driver can get their license. Whether required by state law or not, the safest way for your teen to continue to build driving experience and skills is for you to ride with them as they practice for a full year after they get their license. If you're stumped on how to go about that task, don't fret. Pointers for Parents has lots of tips and practice guides for you and your teen.

Remember, it’s not whether our teens are “good kids” or “responsible” behind the wheel. They are new drivers. What matters most is their lack of experience. Regardless of behavior, their grades or other achievements, all teens are inexperienced and subject to the same risks.

In April 2011, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute identified the most common errors that lead to crashes involving teen drivers. Three out of four serious teen driver crashes are due to inexperience. The three most common errors, accounting for about half of these crashes, are:

  1. Lack of scanning the roadway
  2. Driving too fast for conditions
  3. Distraction by something inside or outside the vehicle

Make sure your teen has lots of practice behind the wheel – the more, the better. Start off driving during the daytime, but don't cherry pick. Your teen won't always be driving on a perect sunny day. When you feel they're ready, gradually add practice at night, in heavier traffic and bad weather.


GM Foundation