In the state of Georgia, new drivers are required to complete a Driver’s Ed course, 12 months’ use of an instructional permit, multiple written exams, and a road skills driving test before being presented with a driver’s license. The myriad of steps required for license procurement are in place to ensure the utmost safety of all Georgia drivers.
Unfortunately, these steps do not always produce drivers with the necessary skills for safe driving. Research shows that the risk of involvement in an auto accident is highest immediately after licensure. The number one cause of death for U.S. teens remains automobile accidents. Regardless of age, new drivers have less experience and skill than those who have been on the road longer.
A Simulated Driving Assessment was recently released as a method of assessing driving skills in scenarios that often times lead to accidents. This study used over ten years of data and 22 common crash methods to compare experienced drivers to those within three months of licensure. Approximately 43% of the inexperienced drivers wrecked at least once, while only 29% of the experienced adult drivers crashed in the simulation.
Skills such as recognizing a hazardous situation, braking at appropriate times, and anticipating other drivers’ actions are learned through driving experience. It is difficult to understand what to do in these situations when you’ve never faced them before. As drivers face more hazardous situations and log more driving time, their driving skills will likely increase.
The fact remains, however, that while only 6.4% of motorists on U.S. roadways range from 15 to 20 years old, 11.4% of traffic fatalities and 14% of injury-causing crashes are caused by 15-20 year olds. This new data and research is aimed at lowering those numbers. The hope is that by determining driving ability deficits in a simulated setting, instructors and new drivers will know better what to focus on during supervised driving practice.
If you have a young driver in your home, it is important to teach them about unexpected distractions and events that can occur while behind the wheel. By better preparing our young drivers for what they will be facing, we can all help to make Georgia roadways safer for everyone.