Is all risky behavior by teen drivers caused because they simply do not care?
Fatal road accidents account for a large percentage of deaths among teenagers and young people ages 15 to 29, with newly licensed teenagers more susceptible to road accidents.
Why Are Teenagers at Risk for Auto Accidents?
A recent study found that teenagers with lower response to stress are more likely than those with higher response to stress to be involved in a road accident. The 18-month long study by scientists at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec was conducted among more than 40 newly licensed teenage drivers. The study found that teenagers with a higher response to the stress hormone cortisol are less susceptible to road accidents.
The Role of Cortisol
“This study found that cortisol, a neurobiological marker, was associated with teenaged driving risk [and that] teenagers with lower response to stress were at higher risk for [crashes and reckless driving charges],” says investigator Marie Claude Ouimet in a written statement. “As in other problem-behavior fields, identification of an objective marker of a specific pathway to teenaged driving risk promises the development of more personalized intervention approaches.”
Scientists at the University of Sherbrooke measured the respondents’ cortisol response while they were given to perform a stress-inducing task. Meanwhile, they also gathered data on the respondents’ reckless driving charges. Finally, the researchers compared the two data to come to a conclusion. In order to measure the respondents’ response to cortisol, the researchers took saliva samples from the respondents after every few days. The researchers installed cameras and sensors in each participant’s car. As expected, the results show that teenagers with a higher response to cortisol or those who can handle stress better had been involved in fewer crashes or faced fewer penalties for reckless driving.
How Stress Affects Teen Driving Behavior
“The most immediate implication of the findings of the Ouimet et al study is for continued research to better characterize the relationship between cortisol reactivity in response to stressors and crash risk in the general population of healthy teens and among those teens who might be at higher crash risk owing to preexisting conditions or history of risky behaviors,” said Dennis R. Durbin, a doctor at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and the co-researcher of the study, in a written statement.
Durbin stressed the importance of conducting more studies to find out how stress affects teenage driving behaviors. Meanwhile, newly licensed teenagers need to be educated about avoiding risky behavior while driving. Parents have a major role to play in helping their children be aware of the risks associated with reckless driving.
If you have been injured by a reckless teen driver, contact a St. Louis car accident attorney from The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. to understand your legal rights.