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NIH: crash risk goes up once teen drivers are licensed

The National Institutes for Health, together with Virginia Tech University, has analyzed the driving of 90 teens to determine their risk for a crash or near-miss before and after they obtain their license. Teens were monitored from the time they obtained their learner's permit to the end of their first year as licensed drivers. Pennsylvania residents may be startled to hear the results.

In the first three months of obtaining their license, teens were found engaging in dangerous actions like severe turns, quick acceleration and harsh braking. (Special software installed on the cars could pick up these actions. In-cab cameras also observed drivers and the road). Based on these results, researchers said that, compared to drivers in the last three months of their permit, drivers in the first three months of their license were eight times more likely to crash or get in a near-miss.

With a permit, teens are under adult supervision, but this can impede their ability to learn certain driving skills that can only be learned alone. Researchers conclude that the risk could go down if adult supervision were not so suddenly withdrawn from a driver's education. Illinois, for example, tripled the length of its driver education programs and saw teen driver deaths reduced to half their original number from 2008 to 2017.

Under car accident law, a crash caused by negligence, whether that driver is a teen or an adult, can open up the possibility of a lawsuit on the side of those innocently harmed. Pennsylvania being a no-fault state, though, only those who have suffered permanent injury or disability can file a third-party insurance claim. Since there are limitations to consider, victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case. If retained, the lawyer may assist with settlement negotiations and litigation.

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