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Study: Novice, younger drivers highest at risk for crashes

By Nadia Singh, nsingh@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jan 02 2014 08:53:58 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 02 2014 10:54:33 PM EST

A medical journal is releasing years of research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute on the effects distracted driving has on inexperienced and younger drivers.

BLACKSBURG, Va. -

A medical journal is releasing years of research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute on the effects distracted driving has on inexperienced and younger drivers.

It says teens and new drivers are more likely to get distracted behind the wheel than anyone else.

The report came out in the New England Journal of Medicine today.

This is one of the first studies geared toward new and younger drivers. One of the reasons for the research is because drivers just starting out are 4 times more likely to get into a car crash.

Charlie Klauer and her team at VTTI, set out to raise awareness about the startling statistics surrounding inexperienced and young drivers.

"We instrumented 109 experienced drivers' vehicles with vehicle sensors and video cameras and we also instrumented 42 novice drivers with the same type of equipment," said Klauer.

This data collection went on for 12-18 month and what researchers found was unsettling.

Klauer told Your Hometown News Leader, "any secondary task that took the drivers eyes off the forward roadway and specifically novice drivers, increased their chances substantially of being in a crash."

Klauer adds that younger and less experienced drivers are more likely to engage in distractions like texting, talking, eating and looking away from the road as they become more comfortable behind the wheel.

"Novice drivers are notorious for not really being able to detect hazards or hazardous distractions on the roadway.

And young drivers, like Rebecca Williams, we spoke to agree.

"A lot of kids my age and younger think they're invincible sometimes on the road, so I think that being able to see the consequences of things like texting and driving, just being distracted in general, is going to be a really good thing for us.

The VTTI team hopes to encourage lawmakers, both state and federal to toughen the laws for new drivers.

You can find a link to the report here:http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1204142?query=featured_home