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New Driver Style Predicts Crash Risk

New drivers with more "g-force events," like quick turns and sudden braking, had more crashes and near hits. Amy Kraft reports

Newly licensed drivers who make sharp turns and come to sudden screeching stops are nerve-wracking. And now there’s evidence to confirm that erratic driving by teens predicts their odds of accidents.

Researchers installed computer and camera equipment on the cars of 42 newly licensed drivers to measure what they called "elevated g-force events," like quick turns and jamming on the brakes.

The researchers tracked the newbies for 18 months, and found that g-force event numbers let them make good bets on who was most likely to crash the car. Data showed that for every 100 miles on the road, elevated g-force events ranged from near zero for some drivers to as high as 50 for others. And drivers with the highest rate of g-force events showed greater instances of fender benders, crashes or close calls.

All told, 26 teens were involved in 37 impacts. The entire cohort experienced 242 near misses. The study is in the American Journal of Epidemiology. [Bruce G. Simons-Morton et al., "Do Elevated Gravitational-Force Events While Driving Predict Crashes and Near Crashes?"]

The research points to the need to monitor new drivers—and to better steer a heavy foot in the right direction.

—Amy Kraft

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
 

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