Is Your Teen Able to Drive?


Does your teen continually lose his stuff? Have hassle remembering to show in her homework? Get simply distracted? In that case, pause earlier than handing over the automotive keys.

That’s the takeaway of mounting analysis suggesting that younger drivers with poor working reminiscence are considerably extra prone to have a automotive accident. Working reminiscence is the cognitive ability that permits individuals to concentrate in actual time and make choices within the face of distractions.

“Whenever you’re driving, it’s important to combine what’s going on with the highway and avenue lights and site visitors with what’s on the radio and your passengers, all in a means that lets you drive safely,” says Daniel Romer, PhD, analysis director on the Annenberg Public Coverage Middle on the College of Pennsylvania. “That each one challenges your working reminiscence.”

Vehicle crashes are the main reason for damage and dying for U.S. adolescents, killing 2,300 yearly.

Danger typically tends to fade with younger maturity. Even a novice 22-year-old has a decrease probability of crashing than an equally novice 16-year-old. Since sure areas of the brain, together with those who management working reminiscence, don’t totally develop till early maturity, Romer’s group started to marvel if crash danger had one thing to do with mind growth.

They adopted 118 youth from ages 11 and 13 to 18 and 20, assessing working reminiscence yearly. After they adopted up 2 years later with a survey about their driving experiences, about 30% had been in at the very least one accident. Those that had developed working reminiscence extra slowly have been extra prone to have crashed, in response to the research revealed in Jama Community.

“Folks are likely to suppose adolescents are simply reckless, but it surely seems you’ll be able to’t generalize,” Romer says. “Developmentally, one 16-year outdated will be wildly totally different than one other.”

Earlier research have linked poor working reminiscence with reckless and inattentive driving. One, revealed in 2019, discovered younger drivers with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), which regularly comes with working reminiscence deficits, obtain extra site visitors tickets and are 62% extra prone to crash inside a month of getting their license.


However Romer notes that follow may also help.

“Having a weak working reminiscence is a serious drawback if you happen to don’t have expertise, however you probably have been driving for some time, issues do begin to get automated,” he says, noting that the majority states now prohibit new drivers from driving underneath high-risk situations, similar to with pals within the automotive or driving after midnight.

He envisions a day when driver’s exams embrace working reminiscence assessments, pediatricians (who in some states should log off earlier than a teen will get a license) are armed with higher screening instruments to establish crash danger, and oldsters can supply their teens driving simulations to bolster working reminiscence expertise.

Within the meantime, don’t take too flippantly the choice to let your teen get a license.

“If a mother or father realizes that their baby has hassle paying consideration or holding issues in reminiscence, they need to take further care,” he says.

By the Numbers

2,364. Variety of teenagers in america who died in automotive crashes in 2017.

300,000. Variety of teenagers in america handled in emergency rooms in 2017 for accidents obtained in automotive crashes.

>2x. Motorized vehicle dying fee for male drivers ages 16 to 19, greater than two occasions larger than for females that age.

1.5x. Crash fee for 16-year-olds is 1.5 occasions larger than for 19-year-olds.

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Daniel Romer, PhD, analysis director on the Annenberg Public Coverage Middle on the College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

CDC: “Teen Drivers: Get the Info.”

JAMA Community: “Working Reminiscence Improvement and Motor Automobile Crashes in Younger Drivers.”

Pediatrics: “Site visitors crashes, violations and suspensions amongst younger drivers with ADHD.”

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