According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 years old are at a higher risk for a car accident than those in any other age group. In facts, teenage drivers are three times more likely per mile driven to be involved in a fatal accident that drivers over the age 20. Some teens, of course, are very conscientious drivers, but unfortunately, accidents still happen. A recent study suggests that that monitoring levels of a certain stress hormone may help predict how likely a teen is to be involved in an accident.
The study found that newly-licensed teenagers who produced lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol were more likely to be involved in an accident or near-accident. According to Dr. Dennis Durbin, co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, this may indicate that people who experience heightened emotions in stressful situations use those emotions to learn more quickly when behind the wheel. Dr. Durbin did not conduct the study, but he did co-write an editorial that was published along with the findings.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec and involved newly-licensed drivers from the state of Virginia. Each of the drivers was 16 years old and had received their probationary driver's licenses less than three weeks prior. Saliva samples were tested while the subjects were subjected to increased stress during a timed math test. The teens' vehicles were then fitted with technology to record accidents or near-accidents for the next 18 months. Those who had the highest levels of cortisol had the lowest crash or near-crash results.
Cortisol is at least partially responsible for activating the fight-or-flight response in stressful situations. In adults, low cortisol levels have been linked to criminal behavior, aggressive and risky driving, and even asocial behavior. This new research study supports other tests that indicate the hormone may be essential in how people actively learn behind the wheel and elsewhere.
Higher levels of cortisol seemed to indicate elevated stress levels and were linked with better reactions to avoid accidents and near-accidents. The researchers indicated that testing young drivers for cortisol levels may help to identify drivers who need additional safety training in order to bring the number of teenage accident fatalities down.
In spite of all of the precautions taken by the state, parents, and drivers, accidents do still happen. If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury due to an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced San Jose personal injury attorney for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case. Call 408-293-7777 today.
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