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Adolescent Development and Driving

February 11, 2011 · 1 Comment

In the last two decades, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has provided insights never before available into brain functioning.  Scientists now know that the decision-making portion of a teenager’s brain is not mature and that the impulse control portion of the brain does not physically mature until about the age of 25.

Teenagers, when compared to adults, do not have the same impulse control and ability to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous behaviors.  The prefrontal cortex, the area immediately behind the forehead, is responsible for judgment and decision making and is the last part of the brain to fully develop.  As a result, teenagers often fail to realize that fast driving, drinking and driving, drag racing, and filling a car with passengers are dangerous activities.  Therefore, teenagers need active parental supervision, especially where driving is concerned.

With this research in mind, discuss the following with your teenager:

·         What risky driving behaviors are and how to avoid them

·         “Doing the right things” and managing risk while driving

·         How to handle peer pressure

·         The reality that driving is serious business, even though advertising messages show everyone having fun; and

·         That over time driving experience pays off, but right now your teenager is inexperienced and a high risk driver.

Based on what is known about adolescent development, here are five tips for parents of teen drivers:

1.      Be a role model for safe driving

2.      Have patience and offer praise for doing the right thing and obeying the law

3.      Talk frequently about safe driving habits

4.      Set clear limits and expectations for your teen’s driving

5.      Practice, practice, practice!

We hope that you incorporate your knowledge of adolescent brain development and driving into the driving practices you establish with your teen. 

Tags: Driving Tips

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 teenage driving laws // Jun 13, 2011 at 4:42 AM

    so the reason behind why teenagers have the greater percentage to be at risk on car accidents is that there is a certain part of their brain that is not fully develop. That is a good discovery.

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