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Cognitive Development Could Influence Teen Drivers

Home » Cognitive Development Could Influence Teen Drivers
September 19, 2019
Edward Smith

Teen Drivers and Cognitive Development

It is commonly known that young drivers, specifically those between the ages of 16 and 24, have the highest rate of car accidents and are one of the top at-risk populations. What is even more concerning is that the younger you are, the more vulnerable and accident-prone you become. The risk of motor vehicle accidents is the highest among those between the ages of 16 and 19,  presenting a risk for all teenage drivers. If you look at car accident fatality rates, you’ll find that per-mile driven, 16-to 19-year-old drivers are 3 times more likely to be involved in a deadly car crash than drivers 20 years or older.

The concerning statistics regarding teen drivers and car accidents have been widely attributed to age-related factors, such as their higher inclination to be reckless, immature and their lack of experience behind the wheel. However, a new study based in Philadelphia suggests that another age-related factor may be coming into play: brain development. The researchers suggest that cognitive development pre-screening might be an excellent strategy to identify high-risk motorists for auto accident prevention interventions. Considering car accidents are the number one cause of death for people ages 15 to 24 years old, the findings of this new study could be worth looking into.

Memory and Teenage Drivers: Study Findings

The study was centered around working memory, a cognitive process that is affiliated with the moment-to-moment processing involved in actions such as driving. Our working memory develops in adolescence and continues to expand into our 20’s. Elizabeth Walse, a lead researcher in the study, stated that their results showed a positive correlation between teens with slower working memory and the likelihood of getting into a car crash.

The findings were part of a longitudinal study that surveyed nearly 300 people from 2005 – 2014. The survey was intent on measuring working memory development, in addition to other risk-related behavior. The oldest group of study participants (roughly 84 people) of the group also completed a follow-up survey that focused on personal driving experiences. Of those 84 people, almost 30 percent had reported being in a motor vehicle accident. All of these young drivers that had been involved in a crash had also scored lower-than-average working memory development.

Watch YouTube Video: Cognitive Development in Adolescence. This video takes a look at brain development in teens and how it influences their behavior.

Implications for the Future

The researchers said that they would like to explore their study in larger, more diverse youth populations to see if their results hold true. There is significant variation in working memory development throughout the teen years. There is also a chance that those with slower working memory may not be ready to take on the skill of independent driving.

Pittsburg CA Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Pittsburg Wrongful Death Lawyer. A considerable percentage of accidents involving teen drivers end up in serious injury, sometimes even death. If you or a loved one has been affected by this, please call me at (925) 428-5220 or (800) 404-5400. I will give you my free, friendly, and compassionate advice regarding your claim.

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