A recent survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found that older teen drivers—specifically high school seniors—were involved in more accidents and near misses and were more likely to exhibit risky driving behavior than their sophomore peers.
The 2017 Teen Driving Study involving 2,800 teens from high schools around the nation found that 34 percent of the sophomores studied had accidents or near misses as compared to 57 percent of the seniors. The researchers also identified certain behaviors that were believed were factors in riskier driving behavior among the teenagers, such as:
- Cell phones. 71 percent of seniors and 55 percent of sophomore used a phone while driving.
- Apps. 67 percent of seniors said they used apps while driving, compared to 49 percent of sophomores.
- Passengers. 47 percent of the seniors said they routinely drive with three or more passengers, compared with 31 percent of the sophomores.
- Speeding. 35 percent of the seniors and 18 percent of the sophomores admitted to speeding.
- Distraction. 26 percent of the seniors studied said they were likely to drive while drowsy, compared with 13 percent of sophomores.
The study attributed the engagement in these and other risky behaviors to greater confidence in their driving skills on the part of seniors, along with that of their parents. While 70 percent of the sophomore drivers participating in the study said they would have to forfeit their driving privileges if they were to get into an automobile accident, only 55 percent of the older teenagers think they would get access to the car taken away, so they behave accordingly.
While experts say it is natural for teen drivers to gain confidence behind the wheel as they grow older, this age group is also more likely to test the limits as consequences begin to decrease and their freedoms and responsibilities increase, making them feel more like adults, despite the fact that they exhibit risky driving behaviors.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.