Teens who are driving already face heightened risks and are statistically prone to getting into a car accident. According to HealthDay News, new research shows that many teens who have experienced a concussion may be getting behind the wheel too soon. Researchers with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, found that about 47% of teen drivers included in the study returned to driving within two weeks of suffering a concussion.
The study included data from 332 drivers between ages 16 and 19 who were diagnosed with a concussion, seen between late January and late August 2018 at CHOP’s specialty care concussion program. On average, the teens were seen 12 days after being injured. The patients were asked if they had made changes to their driving behaviors and whether they had returned to school, exercise and sports.
About three out of five of the 47% who had returned to driving said they had made no changes to their driving behavior. Others said they made some changes such as limiting the number of trips, distance or not driving at night. About 28% of the teens who had returned to driving had also started exercising. Only 11% had returned to sports. About 79% had returned to school.
Researchers said they chose to look at the intersection of driving and concussion to see how many teens are returning to driving soon after a concussion, which could cause cognitive impairment. Engaging in what is already a high-risk activity for teens – driving – can be fraught with even more danger when they drive soon after sustaining a concussion, researchers said.
More than 1.9 million children suffer concussions each year in the United States. About half of those victims are adolescents. Concussions often result in cognitive, vision and neurological deficits. For driving, these problems could include impairing the ability to visually assess a scene, process environmental risks and engage in complex tasks. This could lead to a heightened risk of car accidents, the study concludes.
This study is cause for serious concern because teens are already at great risk for car accident-related injuries and fatalities. We hope these types of studies shed more light on the important steps that need to be taken to protect young people. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, please contact an experienced brain injury lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.