Teens With Depression, Anxiety May Also Take More Driving Risks

If a teen driver shows signs of depression or problems with anxiety, a study suggests they may also have a greater chance of driving recklessly or taking vehicular risks. The study, highlighted in recent news, is one of the first to look at driving patterns and depression or anxiety, and could help experts recognize teens with these problems who may be at higher risk for car accidents. The study, conducted by Queensland University of Technology, looked at the driving habits of more than 760 teen drivers. Findings pointed to study conclusions that those with depression or anxiety-related problems represented more than eight percent of the dangerous driving habits the teens said they had engaged in. For the young female drivers, the link between depression, anxiety and risky driving was almost three percent higher than for males. Previous research has explored the connection between teen depression and a likelihood for dangerous sex, cigarette use or drinking alcohol. This study extends the research focus to linkages between teen mental health problems and risk taking, shedding light on the reasons why some teens may not wear seatbelts, drive while on their cell phones or speed excessively. Researchers hope the study will allow professionals to determine ahead of time if certain teens may be more prone to at-risk driving behaviors. If the teens could be identified, specific treatments with could be administered to promote improvements in their anxiety or depression symptoms. Study findings have been published in Injury Prevention.

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