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Teen drivers develop bad habits quickly

Driving is a difficult activity. As developers of driverless cars have found out, even seemingly basic functions, like determining when the correct light has changed at an intersection in order for a car to make a left turn, are far more difficult than they may appear. So the fact that many teen drivers are cautious when they begin driving is a good thing.

Unfortunately, a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine, has found that for many teens, this caution is rapidly replaced with self-confidence in their driving ability that fails to match reality. And this factor is one of the many that contributes to the higher rate of teen drivers being involved in car accidents.

Distraction, for any driver is a grave threat, but older drivers, because of their experience can handle many types of multitasking better than their teen counterparts.

It takes thousands of hours to develop good driving habits, but the study found that within six months, many teen drivers began texting, eating and engaging in other distracting and dangerous activities.

The study authors caution that their findings are based on a small sample size, and so will require additional research to confirm. Nonetheless, the danger presented by distraction for teen drivers is clear, and many of these drivers have never know life without a cellphone and texting, the challenges to prevent texting while driving will continue to grow.

All drivers should avoid inherently distracting activities like texting, but preventing teens from this activity is essential, as their inexperience at driving makes them all the more vulnerable to the risks everyone faces when driving.

Source: NPR, "When Teen Drivers Multitask, They're Even Worse Than Adults," Maanvi Singh, January 01, 2014

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