Teen Drivers – Risk Potential?

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Why are teens – particularly new drivers – more of an accident-risk


Research shows that teens:

Drive with smaller gaps between vehicles (thus more rear-end collisions) and use seatbelts less often; Are involved in more single-car collisions; Are overrepresented in night-time and weekend collisions; Are more likely to be at fault in a collision; be speeding; carry teenage passengers, ignore signs and signals, overtake vehicles in a risky manner and fail to give priority or consideration pedestrians.


But Why?

  • Inexperience;
  • Immaturity (Development);

 The above  factors interact with each other



Not enough time behind the wheel; Teens overestimate driving skill; Teens underestimate collision risks;

A BAD Combination(!) leading to:

Reduced hazard perception; slower reaction time; underdeveloped vehicle manoeuvring; and visual scanning skills.

These factors boost  the collision risk!


Mental Workload:

Driving is a complex, mentally demanding task, requiring higher level cognitive, perceptual, & motor skills. Over time, the driving task becomes more ‘automatic’, decreasing the workload demands on the brain results indicate that the first few times behind the wheel almost all of the information processing capacity is absorbed in simply maintaining the car’s position in the lane.  As experience is gained, peripheral vision is used more to locate the vehicle in the lane, with observations focused further down the road to allow more time to process information that becomes of increasing relevance as the vehicle’s speed increases.”


Visual Scanning:

Young drivers are less able to scan wider ranges on the road than older drivers; look closer to the front of the vehicle and to the right; focus on keeping the vehicle in the lane. With increased experience, drivers are better able to focus their forward observations, rely on peripheral cues, and scan wider areas.

Even when specifically instructed to pay attention to road signs, inexperienced drivers miss significantly more signs than experienced drivers.  Young drivers are relatively poor at identifying distant hazards, although they compare well with older drivers in identifying near hazards.”

During Late teens, adolescents are, in a real sense, ‘thinking’ with their emotions.


Teens may also be more drawn to stimulus-seeking and risky behaviours because of different sensory-perception and social-development needs than adults; Less susceptible to awareness of alcohol or drug effects than adults; More influenced by and drawn to peer interactions. Alcohol / drugs reduce social inhibitions more powerfully for teens than for adults, thus, risk-taking, stimulus-seeking, and peer-influenced behaviour of teens is powerfully driven by developmental events.


Take for instance, how you yourself would decide on a journey before making it.

  • Is it necessary?
  • How are the road and weather conditions? (Brakes have a reduced efficiency in the wet or on low-friction roads)
  • Could I take the bus instead?
  • Is my intended route safe, considering the adverse weather (Ice, Snow, Rain)
  • I’ll have the family with me – does the journey warrant the risk?
  • How am I feeling – Tired? Alert? Angry? Low-spirits?
  • Will my journey involve a heavy meal?
  • Will my companions or peer group be drinking?


Tristar Driving use client-centred Coaching methods that encompass each level of the GDE Matrix (Goals for Driver Education), helping young drivers to raise their awareness and therefore their ability to plan safely.

To discover more about the GDE Matrix and its relevance to coaching for driver education, you can check out

Sept 2013


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