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Study looks at errors that lead to fatal teen crashes

Consumer Reports News: April 12, 2011 01:48 PM

Car accidents are the number one killer of teens, with 75 percent of crashes occurring due to a critical teen driver error, according to a new study that sheds light on those fatal errors.

The study published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention and conducted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies had researchers analyze the federal crash database, looking at more than 800 crashes with teen drivers.

Twenty-one percent of the accidents were caused by lack of scanning to detect and respond to hazards, which means that teens were more focused on looking at the road ahead and not to the side of the vehicle where other dangers could loom. Another 21 percent were caused by driving too fast for road conditions. The study notes that weather and aggressive or drowsy driving were not major factors. And 20 percent of accidents were caused by a distraction from inside or outside the vehicle.

Researchers note that ways to address these problems include stronger graduated licensing laws that address distractions, through measures like limiting teen passengers or cell phone use among new drivers. Driver training is another area that could help teens build the skills to detect surrounding hazards.

Consumers Reports is hosting a teen driving school on April 30th. The class is full, but we will be covering the event and will share the experience and lessons. See where to find car control clinics in your area.

For more on teen driving, see our guide to distracted driving and teen safety. Also, check out our list of the best cars for teen drivers.

Liza Barth

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