Assistant Professor Anuj K. Pradhan of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department was one of 10 experts from universities around the country featured in WalletHub's recent piece about the “Best States for Teen Drivers.” In the WalletHub spread, Pradhan says the biggest risk teen drivers face is “the impact of the presence of peer passengers. There is evidence of increased risk-taking behaviors in the presence of peers.”
Pradhan heads the Pradhan Research Group, which studies the etiology of injuries and fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes from a human factors and behavioral standpoint, and is co-director of the Human Performance Laboratory, home of a state-of-the-art driving simulator.
In order to determine the best and worst states for teen drivers, WalletHub analyzed the teen-driving environment in the 50 states across three key dimensions: safety, economic environment, and driving laws. For additional insight and advice, the website asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts.
As Pradhan says in the WalletHub spread, “Parents can contribute towards young driver safety in two ways: modeling safe driving behaviors early on; and being involved in teens’ driver education and training and being actively involved in their first few months of graduated or unrestricted licensed driving.”
The global pandemic, rather than decreasing the risks in teen driving, seems to have accelerated it, according to Pradhan.
As he says, “Driving remains a high-risk activity, and there is evidence that throughout the pandemic there has been an increase in riskier driving, including speeding. Regardless of the reasons behind this increase, an important consideration is that teen drivers are sharing the road with other drivers who may be exhibiting more risky behaviors.”
What are the solutions to risky teen driving? One is Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), which, according to Pradhan, is effective in reducing teen driver crashes.
As Pradhan says, “Education and training also reduce driving risks and accelerate teen drivers' understanding of roadway risks and strategies to detect, anticipate, and mitigate these risks. A combination of sound GDL deployment and robust training and education will contribute greatly to increasing the safety of teen drivers.” (July 2021)