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September 26, 2013

Teenage drivers with teen passengers more likely to die in accidents

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The graduated licensing schemes lift restrictions as drivers age and gain experience, an approach born out by the study's comparison of 15- to 17-year-olds with drivers in the next age group, 18 to 24. While deaths with teen passengers on board increased each year among the younger group, it declined over 10 years in the older group.

"Novice drivers (15 to 17 years old) are at a distinct disadvantage, not only because of their limited driving experience, but also because of their incomplete brain development," the TTI study says. "Research has found that the prefrontal cortex of the brain — the region responsible for weighing the consequences of risky behavior — is the last part of the brain to develop."

Less capable of correctly assessing risk, those teenagers are more easily distracted and more likely to take risks when other teenagers are in the vehicle, the report said.

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