Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, PLLC

New drivers are not the very worst drivers

An old stereotype about drivers is that the younger they are, the more reckless they are behind the wheel.

It turns out, that’s not quite right. A new study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and a group called Students Against Destructive Decisions reveals a fascinating clarification:


Brand new teen drivers drive more safely than older teenagers. The proof? Over 50 percent of high school seniors are involved in accidents or near-accidents. High school sophomores, by contrast, are involved less often in crashes – only 34 percent of them.

It makes sense

New drivers pay close attention to their driving – because they are afraid. Older teen drivers are less afraid, because nothing bad has happened to them yet. They have not yet learned the terrible lesson driving – that it’s dangerous.

Because they are less afraid, they start to take chances: exceeding the speed limit, not looking when they pull into traffic or change lanes, showing off to their friends.

Younger drivers worry about their driving, and therefore focus on it. Slightly older drivers slip into the bad habits that arise from overconfidence – talking to friends on the cellphone, changing stations on the radio, texting, drinking, holding a milkshake between their legs.

The problem of confidence

How overconfident can older teenagers be? The study showed that 75 percent of high school seniors saw themselves as pretty good drivers.

It’s a lesson as old as human nature – pride going just before the car crash.

Our roads and highways would be safer if we all drove less confidently, and not more. Because new drivers have it exactly right. Cars are dangerous, and bad things happen at high speeds – especially when you drive with your cellphone in hand.


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