Choosing to operate a motor vehicle while distracted is risky, hazardous and potentially lethal no matter how experienced a driver is. However, a newly released study indicates that a motorist’s risk of being involved in distracted driving accidents does increase if the driver is inexperienced.

The study was conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute’s Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety. The researchers have concluded that novice drivers are more at risk for being involved in distracted driving accidents because they are “more likely to engage in high-risk secondary tasks” while behind the wheel, according to the report.

However, this only applies to novice drivers who have been operating vehicles for a certain amount of time. According to the study, novice drivers are more focused than average drivers on the primary task at hand for the first six months of their driving careers. It is only after 16 months have passed since being granted licensure that novice drivers become twice as likely as average drivers to be distracted by non-driving activities including eating, interactions with passengers and cellphone use.

It is therefore critically important that novice drivers and their parents remain vigilant about prohibiting distracted driving behavior behind the wheel long after teens have obtained their licenses. After many months have passed, teens may be lulled into a false sense of security about their driving abilities. However, distracted driving is hazardous no matter how experienced one is at driving, so it is important not to engage in these behaviors simply because one has been licensed for at least a year.