"Driving tests are intended to ensure that people using public roadways have a minimum level of competence and are aware of safe driving practices and road law."
Source: Driver License Testing of Young Novice Drivers, NHTSA, February 2011
Teens don't get into crashes because they are uninformed about the basic rules of the road or safe driving practices; rather, studies show they're involved in crashes as a result of inexperience and risk-taking. Young drivers, particularly 16- and 17-year-olds, have high fatal crash rates because of limited driving experience and immaturity that often result in high-risk behavior behind the wheel.
Peer pressure is an especially potent factor. In a recent NHTSA study, teens were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in potentially risky behavior when driving with a teenage peer versus driving alone. The likelihood increased to three times when traveling with multiple passengers.
Historically, it was thought that effective driver education and training would reduce high crash rates of novice drivers 15 to 18 years old. But many studies of driver education have failed to show a decrease in crash rates among teen drivers who have participated in driver education programs.
A more comprehensive program – the graduated driver licensing (GDL) system – gives novice drivers experience under adult scrutiny and protection by gradually introducing more risky driving conditions. In fact, multiple studies report GDL systems reduce the number of 16- and 17-year-old-driver crashes.
But the learning doesn't stop there. As a parent, it’s essential that you step up and take a proactive role in keeping your teens alive and injury-free.
"Approximately 8 percent of all licensed drivers involved in fatal crashes are between 15 and 18 years old, and motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for this age group."
Source: A Fresh Look at Driver Education in America (PDF, 670 KB), NHTSA, April 2012
Ask the right questions. Go to The Driving School Association of The America's driving school index for more information on professional driving schools in your state.