Is brain development tied to your teen’s reckless driving?

It is no secret that teens fall in the age group most commonly involved in car accidents. In fact, car accidents are one of the top causes of death for teens across the United States.

Many people think that teens are not safe drivers because of their inexperience, but a recent study indicates that it could be much more than that.

Brain development could influence safety behind the wheel

In September, the University of Pennsylvania published a study which found that the stage of a teen’s brain development could play a significant role in their risk of a car crash. Most people’s brains do not develop fully until they turn 25, but the progress of development can vary between each individual and each age.

So, what does this mean?

The study found that teens whose working memory developed slower than others meant they were more at risk of engaging in reckless behaviors while driving, such as:

  • Speeding;
  • Texting while driving; and
  • Not wearing a seat belt.

There is nothing wrong with slower brain development, but it might make it harder for teens to gauge hazards on the road.

What can your teen do to be safer behind the wheel?

If your teen will be getting their learner’s permit soon, this news might worry you. However, regardless of your teen’s brain development, there are ways that you can help them drive safely. For example, you can:

  1. Help them practice: Most teenagers in Pennsylvania receive driver’s education courses before they get their license. However, practice is often the best way to learn. Taking extra time to practice driving with your teen and ensure they are comfortable behind the wheel can make all the difference.
  2. Prevent hazards: Be honest with your teen. Discuss the dangers of texting while driving and the potential consequences of a car accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests that parents make an agreement to establish specific rules with their teens when they start driving.

Teens are often eager to get their license and the freedom that comes along with it. However, it is responsible to require your teens to practice longer before they test to obtain their license. This is not only helpful for their brain development but also the protection of their safety and their future.