Teenagers feature prominently in many stories and examples of bad driving, and quite a few people have wondered, “Why are they so reckless?” Is it their parents? Is it the culture? Is it their brains?
First things first: Some teenagers, many, really, are safe and careful drivers. Even those who later become reckless drivers often start cautiously. However, it does seem that a disproportionate share of teen drivers are reckless. Here are some reasons why.
Hormones, changing bodies and undeveloped brains
Teens are likelier than other age groups to engage in impulsive and risky behaviors, whether they are drinking, stealing or speeding. Many are fine not knowing about the risks of what they are doing. Sometimes, they just do not care to know. Other times, they do not even think to wonder. Video games may prove somewhat effective in getting teens to better understand the consequences of their actions, and that approach could help some teens drive more safely.
In general, much of teens’ reckless driving comes from the fact that they are changing and not finished developing.
Combine teens’ hormones and underdeveloped brains with the responsibility of driving a car that could easily injure or kill others. It does seem some teens do not deserve that responsibility. What some parents do is have their teens pay for their own car and insurance. This may help them feel more invested in safe driving.
Alcohol and cellphones
Teens are big into cellphones and socializing online. This can interfere with their driving, as can alcohol. In fact, many teens are just beginning to experiment with alcohol at the same time they start driving. Again, a bad combination.
Many teens ride together, and when they are in groups, they can be rather distracting for the driver. Parents can set a rule that their teen should have only one other teenage passenger in the car at the same time. There is some good news, though. Improved safety features, such as automated braking, should help reduce the overall damage caused by teenage drivers.