New Teen Drivers May Not Understand the World the Same Way as Older Drivers

teen driver (select to view enlarged photo)

WASHINGTON--Sept. 11, 2013: Appearances can be deceiving. For example, the teenage driver in the car next to you on the freeway might look like a young adult; however, recent research indicates that newly licensed teens might not have the same level of emotional intelligence behind the wheel as older drivers.

Knowing this might be the first step in helping teen drivers learn to drive smarter and make better decisions behind the wheel. Most experts agree that there are 5 key causes of teen accidents related to the teenage brain:

Risk-taking behavior Limitations to problem-solving ability Difficulty judging location, distance and speed Distracted driving Inexperience behind the wheel

What does this mean for teenage drivers? As teenagers begin to look like young adults, it can be difficult for parents to remember that the teenage brain still has some growing up to do. A recent study conducted by Lebel and Beaulieu and published in the Journal of Neuroscience reinforces the hypothesis that the human brain doesn't stop developing at adolescence, but continues to develop well into the early twenties*. A young brain can put a teen driver at a higher risk than an adult.

Brain Research and Teen Driving

While teenagers are just as intelligent as adults, their frontal lobes are not as fully developed. Because of this, their bodies do not react as quickly to stimuli, they do not have the emotional intelligence to make decisions as adults do, and they are much more likely to take risks than adults are. Mix these factors with an automobile, and the situation could be fatal.

What's the Consequence?

There are many possible reactions to this knowledge. Some lawmakers have proposed raising the driving age to 21 or older. Some parents don't allow their teens to drive at all. Many parents go the extra mile to educate their teens on driver safety before those teens ever get behind the wheel. In some states, lawmakers have proposed Graduated Driver Licensing.

Is Graduated Driver Licensing a Good Solution?

Some states have graduated driver licensing. What is GDL? It's a system to phase in young beginners to full driving privileges. GDL introduces teens to driving in a low-risk way by allowing them to drive with restrictions that are gradually lifted as they become more mature and develop their driving skills. Some proponents of the GDL say that the system helps the less-developed teen brain cope with learning the new skill while reducing the number of high-risk choices the teenage driver must make.

Are You Smarter than Your 16 Year Old?

Understanding how teens think behind the wheel is the first step to helping both parents—and their teenage driver—feel better when they hand over the keys. To begin with, parents can help teens learn to make smarter driving decisions with the information you'll find right here on

Studies show that the more teenage drivers learn about driver safety before they get behind the wheel, the less likely they are to get into an accident. With's up-to-date practice exams written by certified driver safety professionals, your teen will be the most prepared driver his or her first time out behind the wheel.

Make Learning Fun for the Whole Family

Looking for a fun way to talk about driving safety with your teenager?, a leading online educational provider, is encouraging parents to take an active role in helping teens understand signs and road situations so they can be better prepared to make smarter driving decisions. Challenge your teenager to see who knows more about the rules of the road - Are you smarter than your 16 year old? Test yourself to see!

Think you Know All About the Road?

Visit and see how you stack up with practice exams designed to help learner drivers pass their permit tests. You can select a test specifically for your state, or, challenge yourself by taking a test for the states with the most notoriously dangerous roads. Many highway fatalities occur on rural roads, but Interstates are still topping the charts. See how you measure up to some of the country's most dangerous:

I-95 & I-4 Florida - Florida Signs & Road Situations Test I-76, New Jersey - New Jersey Signs & Road Situations Test I-15 & I-10 California - California Signs & Road Situations Test

Even if you've been driving for 30 years, there is always room for a refresher course. Driving basics, such as making full stops at stop signs and red lights and other good habits, should also be reviewed. What better way to get ready for that long road trip or just a spin about town than to brush up on parking laws, signaling, sign safety, highway etiquette, and more. can help you become a better driver and a better citizen.

About is a leading online educational learning site that offers free permit practice test services to US learner drivers. Since 2010, has issued over 4.5 million practice permit tests; over 250,000 Americans use the practice tests created by every month to prepare for their permit test. The company offers over 550 unique practice permit tests for motor vehicles and motorcycles. Each practice test was created by an automotive expert and is based on the current year's official Driver's Manual so every learner driver can be sure they are receiving the most up-to-date test questions.

* Lebel C., C. Beaulieu. "Longitudinal development of human brain wiring continues from childhood into adulthood." Journal of Neuroscience. 27 Jul 2011.

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