A new study, as reported in the Washington Post, by the National Institute for Health indicates that adolescent brains do not fully form their risk aversion until age 25.
This is especially a problem with teen driving. The study reveals young adults will take on risky behavior especially when accompanied by their peers.
Participants took the test alone and with their friends in the room. Researchers found that those in the two younger groups consistently took more chances with friends present. Those 24 and older behaved equally cautiously, regardless of whether friends were watching.
The results help show why teenagers are more likely to drink, take drugs or commit crimes in groups, he said. They're also reflected in auto crash statistics.
According to the Arlington-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the chances of a crash by a 16- or 17-year-old driver are doubled with two peers in the vehicle and quadrupled with three or more. "Every passenger you add increases the risk," said Alan Williams, chief scientist at the institute. The brain and behavior studies, he said, "certainly tie in with what we know."
It will be interesting to see if this leads to lawsuits from the pre-25 crowd that wants to exit contracts such as military service or early marriage. Several states are considering laws banning mobile phone conversations while driving for drivers under 18. More studies will be planned and follow-up research done.
From personal experience, my friends and I were very prone to reckless driving in our youth, especially from age 16 to 18. Looking back, my friends and I have realized how we felt little fear of our own or others' mortality. As I grew older and wiser, these fears increased while driving. Now I know a bit more of the science behind the teenage risky group think that drove us to dangerous driving.