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Teen driving study: some thoughts and age-specific considerations

It’s not exactly as though teen drivers in California and elsewhere across the country need another driving-related study pointing out that they are a readily distinguishable motoring group in need of enhanced scrutiny and attention from law enforcement.

Notwithstanding the lack of any such need (at least from the perspective of teen motorists), here comes that study. This time, it proceeds courtesy of the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, with notable findings that appeared online recently in the journal Pediatrics.

Here’s one of the study’s central conclusions: According to researchers, that all-too-well-known teen propensity for being readily influenced by what peers are doing rears its ugly head when it comes to impaired driving.

Fleshed out, that means driving drunk or stoned behind the wheel, which spells an obvious concern for the increased risks it poses for motor vehicle accidents.

A point that is particularly stressed by study authors concerns especially young teen occupants in vehicles (in the study, 10th graders) who observe older teen motorists driving impaired. Those adolescents are far more likely to drive impaired themselves by the time they are high-school seniors than are their peers who did not observe such behavior in others when they were younger.

That goes far toward proving the assertion often made by adults, namely, that many teens closely watch and model their behavior based on what they see and become comfortable with. The study can be viewed as instructive for many parents and other caregivers, encouraging them to always drive with all due care in the presence of their children.

As for the kids, a driving offense can be a truly serious matter or, sometimes, something closer to a youthful indiscretion that can be learned from and never repeated.

In such an instance, and because law enforcers are unlikely to differentiate between the two, prompt and aggressive representation from a proven criminal defense attorney can go far toward mitigating the consequences and protecting the legal rights of a youthful offender.

Source: USA TODAY, "Riding with impaired drivers increases teens' DWI risks," Michelle Healy, March 17, 2014

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