George Mason Releases Study on Teen Drivers

Posted: January 12, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Kate Passin

Eighteen- to 20-year-olds have notably more convictions for alcohol use, high risk and reckless driving behaviors, seat belt violations, speeding, improper driving, and other traffic violations than any other age group, according to a recent study by the university’s Center for the Advancement of Public Health (CAPH). The study, which is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), examines the current ways Virginia teens learn to drive. The purpose of the study is to help determine what approaches are working and what needs to be improved.

The center gathered data through interviews with state and national experts, and also held focus groups with parents, teens, and driver education instructors. While conducting the study, researchers considered all young drivers (15- to 20-year-olds), not just the 15-to-16-year-old population that is typically examined in other studies.

One of the surprising findings is that conviction data for traffic violations of young drivers aged 18 to 20 were significantly higher than conviction data for those aged 15 to 17. In 1999, for example, 28 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds were convicted for speeding, while only 6 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds and approximately 10 percent of the over-21 population had the same convictions. The study also cited parental involvement and more behind-the-wheel practice (in addition to what driver’s education classes provide) as key in helping teens become safer drivers.

“There is not a simple solution to this issue,” says David Anderson, director of CAPH and author of the study. “It is a complex problem that requires a whole range of responses. The findings of this study will help safety professionals and anyone engaged in preparing teens to drive more safely to develop multiple strategies that reduce the risk factors affecting young drivers.”

To view the entire study, visit the CAPH’s web site or call x33697.

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