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Teenage Drivers

Timothy J Coats trauma-list@trauma.org
Mon, 10 Jun 2002 13:55:25 BST

It sounds intuative that educating teenagers about driving is a good thing. However, 
paradoxically, some programs may be increasing the number of young drivers having 
road traffic crashes. The timing of the intervention may be crucial.
A review of the evidence is in the Cochrane Library (http://www.update-
To quote the Results:
"The results show that driver education leads to early licensing. They 
provide no evidence that driver education reduces road crash involvement, 
and suggest that it may lead to a modest but potentially important increase 
in the proportion of teenagers involved in traffic crashes."

Basically it seems that early licensing gives a longer period at risk, therefore more 
crashes. Last year the UK Government was proposing to give Driver Education to 
every 16 year old. It does not seem to make sense to have a public health 
intervention which is likely to increase the number of teenagers involved in road 

Once teenagers have decided to take up driving does education have any benefit - 
there seems little evidence that it does. I would suggest that if this was a medical 
intervention it would be rated as "For use in controlled trials only".

Tim (rapidly dives for cover).

> Well done. 
> I have been running a young driver education programme locally for the
> past 2 years which is modelled on a similar programme I saw being run
> in Hamilton, Ontario called CHAT. Very similar messages and worth
> repeating a million times so that one life may be saved, maybe.. Aruni
> Sen MS FRCS FFAEM Consultant in Emergency Medicine Maelor Hospital;
> North East Wales NHS Trust Wrexham LL13 7TD, UK. Tel 01978 725555 /
> 725498 (secy) Fax 01978 725168 Mobile 07931 542759 ; Pager 07625
> 618656 Email : aruni.sen@new-tr.wales.nhs.uk
>  -----Original Message-----
>  From:	Gary Direnfeld [SMTP:gary123@sympatico.ca]
>  Sent:	Thursday, May 30, 2002 12:33 PM
>  To:	trauma-list@trauma.org
>  Subject:	Article attached and in the body of this email...
>  With teen driver car crashes as the leading cause of permanent
> injury and death in teens and with summer having the highest frequency
> of teen car crashes, we would appreciate if you would post the
> following article on your websites and distribute it to your contacts.
>  _______________________________
>  Prepare Teens for Summer Driving 
>  More people will die in a car crash in the summertime than in any
> other season. (See table 23 -
> http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/TSFAnn/TSF2000.pdf )
>  In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, 1999
> statistics, teen car crashes accounted for a whopping 76% of all teen
> deaths caused by unintentional injuries (teens ages 16 - 20). Further,
> of all causes of death combined, teen car crashes account for a full
> 41% whereas homicide the second leading cause of death accounts for
> 18% of teen mortality.
> http://webapp.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10.html 
>  Parents of teen drivers are encouraged to discuss driving behavior
> with their son or daughter by addressing these four myths:
>  Myth: 	        It is safer to drive during the night when there is
> less traffic.
>  Truth: 	        More teen drivers die in car crashes between 1:00 am
> and 5:00 am than any other time of day.
>  Recommendation: Parents should restrict late night driving and opt to
> act as chauffeur. 
>  Better to pick your teen up at a dance than at the hospital or
> morgue.
>  Myth: 	        Teens are safer with more passengers in the car to
> help watch traffic.
>  Truth: 	        The more teen passengers in the car the greater the
> likelihood of a crash. Teens tend to turn up the music and carry on
> more boisterously with other teens in the car, causing serious driver
> distraction.
>  Recommendation: Parents should limit the number of teen passengers
> allowed to travel in the 
>  vehicle with a teen driver and the number of passengers must never
> exceed the number of working seat belts.
>  Myth: 	        Alcohol is the leading cause of teen driver related
> car crashes.
>  Truth: 	        Speeding is the number one cause of teen driver car
> crashes.
>  Recommendation: Parents should caution their teens against speeding
> and while teens like to see
>  how fast they can go, parents should make sure the brakes are in good
> mechanical order.
>  Myth: 	        Parent-youth safe driving contracts don't work.
>  Truth: 	        Safe driving contracts encourage communication
> between parent and youth so parents can relate clear expectations to
> teens. Parents that use comprehensive contracts tend to place greater
> restrictions on their teen driver resulting in safer road use.
>  Recommendation: Look for and use the most comprehensive parent-youth
> safe driving contract
>  available and go through it with your teen.
>  Parents are encouraged to review the I Promise Program website -
> www.ipromiseprogram.com for such a contract. This program combines a
> multi-item safe driving contract with a rear window decal that
> encourages reports on driver behavior as a means of accountability.
> Don't worry; the reports only go back to the family. This program has
> been developed with youth, parents, community members, police and
> other organizations.
>  Finally, all parents must remember, safe teen driving starts with
> you. Be a good role model of responsible driving behavior and this
> will increase the odds that your teen will be a good driver too.
>  Gary Direnfeld, MSW, Executive Director
>  I Promise Program
>  20 Suter Crescent,
>  Dundas, Ontario, Canada
>  L9H 6R5
>  (905) 628-4847
>  gary123@sympatico.ca 
>  www.ipromiseprogram.com << File: Prepare teens for safe summer
> driving.doc >> 
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Timothy J Coats MD FRCS FFAEM
Senior Lecturer in Accident and Emergency / Pre-Hospital Care
Royal London Hospital, UK.