It is no shock that teenage drivers are the cause of most car accidents. Teen drivers are such a problem that many states have placed severe restrictions on teen driving. In certain states, teens are not allowed to have passengers under the age of 21, they aren’t allowed to drive after dark and in some cases the age to receive a drivers license has increased. All of these precautions and restrictions are aimed at reducing auto accidents and car accident injuries in Atlanta. One question that is rarely asked is why are teenagers and young adults such horrible drivers? We will use recent studies on the brain development of teens to answer this question.
Neuroscience has proven via MRI that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until around the age of 23-25. Before this age, adolescents do not have a full functioning frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is the decision center of the brain, and it controls impulsive behavior. Teens are not only immature emotionally, they are also neurologically immature, and do not have the decision making skills or impulse control of adults. An immature frontal cortex can lead to high risk and thrill seeking activities such as drag racing, speeding, rapid lane changing and even drunk driving. Add in a group of noisy teen passengers and you have trouble on wheels.
Teens are also more likely to put a text message or a phone call above driving safely. They are more prone to having in car distractions such as eating while driving, changing the radio while driving, and using a cellphone while driving. All of these distractions are a major cause of car accidents.
Stricter driving license laws are a good start, but more can be done to prevent lower back injuries from accidents. Teens who are found speeding or driving recklessly should be extremely punished, and a 3 strikes drivers license suspension program should be enacted to take irresponsible teen drivers off the road. Cellphones should not be used in a moving car, there needs to be a fine for driving and using a cellphone, and even more severe fines for driving and texting. Teens need real consequences for their irresponsible driving practices that will take them off the road.