Teens aren't the best drivers, but they might be worse than you thought

Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 12:43:41-04

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and according to AAA the risk of an accident occurring when there are only teens in the car goes up 51 percent.

“It’s a lot of distraction,” said Kerry Donnelly the assistant manager of the AAA driver training department.

“Cognitive distraction, they’re intent on their conversations, they’re sometimes in emotional conversations and quite honestly even a minor mistake - they don’t have the muscle memory to make the correct adjustments to stay on the road.”

That poor muscle memory is also what makes new technology in cars more difficult to navigate for younger drivers. 

“[They make] us a little bit lazy drivers too, the backup cameras - people aren’t looking, they’re counting on that camera and there are still a lot of blind spots that we need to be careful of.”

These touch screen enhancements, buttons, and other features are meant to be safety upgrades, but really - they add to distraction for newer drivers.

“It can be very distracting, especially if you don’t take the time to really get used to the vehicle that you’re driving, take the time to train your hands where to go for this where to go for that. Play with it in the parking lot so you’re not distracted trying to figure out how to operate something properly.”

Although New York State only requires 50 hours of supervised driving, with 15 of those hours at night, AAA says, really, it should be closer to 100 hours.

“Teens tend to think they’re better drivers than they actually and then they tend to think that the amount of risk on the road is less than it actually is,” said Michael Formanowicz, the AAA manager of driver training.

He says when you’re first learning to drive, everything is new.

“Think about a new driver, they’re still trying to figure out the things that they’re seeing while they’re driving whats important, what’s not important.”

It’s not just teens driving long, or unknown distances that can be dangerous - it’s driving their typical routes that really can invite the most distractions, according to driving experts.

“Even that drive that you take everyday to and from school or to and from work… something could change tomorrow. They’ll be different pedestrians, different cars, maybe the traffic signals are a little off, maybe they’re doing construction on the road. Just because its a safe drive you still gotta be paying full attention at all times,” said Formanowicz.

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