Many teen drivers have "near miss" incidents

Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:36am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Nearly 70 percent of teen drivers in the United States have narrowly avoided an accident and many blame the "near miss" on other drivers or the weather, according to a new survey.

Nearly half of the 2,294 young drivers questioned in the poll admitted a "near miss" had happened more than once and for 43 percent it had occurred multiple times during the last year.

"The high prevalence of distracted and dangerous driving continues to be a concern, especially as we head into the summer months when the highest number of driving fatalities occurs," said Stephen Wallace, the chairman of the organization Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), which conducted the survey with Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Thirty four percent of the teens who had a "near miss" incident blamed it on other drivers, while 21 percent said it was due to the weather and 13 said they were text messaging.

Only 9 percent admitted they were speeding, six percent claimed they were distracted by other passengers and two percent said they were talking on a cellphone.

The study showed that the summer can be a particularly dangerous time for teen drivers because they spend more hours behind the wheel in warm months compared to the rest of the year.

"The crashes -- too often with tragic results -- naturally draw our attention and concern, but it's those brushes with danger that are even more prevalent that should serve as a wake-up call to any driver," said Dave Melton, managing director of global safety with Liberty Mutual.

Ironically, 92 percent of teens still consider themselves safe drivers and are only likely to change their driving habits if they are involved in an actual car crash, according to the survey.

Teenagers said New Year Eve's, the July 4th Independence Day holiday and prom night were the most dangerous times for driving.

"The seasonal events with the highest percentage of driving under the influence (of drugs or alcohol), as reported by teen drivers, are summer driving and New Year's Eve," the report said.

<p>Snow covers the Potomac River as seen at the Memorial Bridge from Arlington, Virginia, January 26, 2004. REUTERS/Molly Riley</p>