A new study has highlighted the risk to young drivers in particular of distractions when behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Virginia Tech in the US showed new drivers often have lower levels of concentration than their more experienced counterparts and this can lead to serious problems and a greater risk of young drivers being involved in an accident.
The study examined the behaviour and driving habits of 150 motorists in the Washington DC area and in southern Virginia, with the full report being published in this month’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
It showed that on average, all motorists take their eyes off the road for approximately ten per cent of the time they are travelling to carry out a range of other tasks, but in younger motorists this practice can be extremely dangerous.
Younger drivers were shown to be eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss as a result of dialling their phone than their older compatriots. Meanwhile, other potentially distracting habits included reaching for objects in the car (seven times more likely), texting (four times) and eating (three times).
Overall, figures show that around six per cent of all road users are aged under 20, but it is this group which makes up 11 per cent of all accident fatalities and are involved in 14 per cent of all crashes that result in injury.
Study co-author Bruce Simons-Morton, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the NIH, commented: “Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road can be dangerous. But our study shows these distracting practices are especially risky for novice drivers, who haven’t developed sound safety judgment behind the wheel.”
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