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Teen Risky Driving Behavior

Teen risky driving behavior is a perennial problem. We have not yet identified a way to help them understand the risks or the damage that could result. Parents, teachers, and the legal system have been struggling to find an effective intervention for risky driving behavior by teens. Thus far, the solution remains elusive. But we must keep trying until we find the right solution.Teen Risky Driving Behavior -- Altizer Law PC

Auto accidents and other vehicle crashes are the leading cause of accidental death for American teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), auto accidents cause one in every three accidental deaths of teens.

New Teen Driver Education Programs

Expanded driver education programs and new programs to teach responsible and defensive driving are appearing throughout the country. The jury is still out on their effectiveness.

One such program is the Texas Reality Education for Drivers (RED) program. A recent study conducted by Baylor University, examined modifications of driving behaviors by teens involved in the program. RED is a “supplemental risk reduction program that includes realistic experience.” Similar programs are being created throughout the country by insurance companies, government agencies, hospitals and private companies.

Baylor Study of the Texas RED Program

The Baylor study reviewed 21 teen participants in the RED program. Each of these participants was referred to the program by a court, a school administrator (for disciplinary action), community groups, or parents.

The 21 teens in the study completed a questionnaire at the beginning of the RED program. The questionnaire consisted of 17 questions about their risky driving behaviors during the prior 30 days. The most frequently reported risky diving behaviors were:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone,
  • Driving on freeways or interstates
  • Driving between midnight and 6 a.m.

The teens admitted driving on freeways and interstates six to nine times. Ninety percent talked on the phone or texted (81 percent) six to nine times.

The RED program was held on one day for six hours in a hospital setting. It included lectures, discussions and activities, as well as tours by nurses and conversations with health care personnel who had experience with people injured in auto accidents. Early in the program, participants were asked to rate several types of risky driving behavior. Most of the teen participants ranked drunk driving, speeding, racing and not wearing a seat belt as risky. Few of the participants, however, listed listening to the radio, driving on freeways or interstates or driving with more than one teen passenger as risky.

At the end of the program, the teen participants were more aware of speeding hazards and more aware of peer influence on drinking and driving. Two months after the end of the program, six participants reported talking on the phone and texting while driving and two reported driving at least 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.

The study also discovered that parental monitoring increased after their child/children participated in the RED program. These parents were more likely to set new driving rules and to discuss the consequences of risky driving behavior with their teens. The parents were also more likely to enforce consequences of risky driving than they were prior to the program.


Future research might be more helpful if a control group of “safe teen drivers” were included in the study.

The study found that “Young driver crashes are due to multiple factors requiring a complex solution. A change in risk perception and awareness does not always translate to a change in behavior. Helping teens drive safely requires a team: educators, peers and parents.”

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in comments below. How would you approach changing risky driving behavior in teens?

If you or a loved one is injured by a crash involving a teen driver and through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to seek financial compensation for your hurts and harms. Call Bettina Altizer to discuss your accident and injuries. If there is reason to proceed to seek damages, Bettina and her team of experienced experts at Altizer Law, P.C., will go to work immediately for you.