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Graduation time dangerous for teen drivers

GradAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) graduation time is one of the most dangerous times for teens on the road. Texting, underage drinking, and other distractions lead to tragedies that can be avoided through communication and education.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in our country and about a third of those are alcohol related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Interestingly, more than one-third of the year’s alcohol-related teen car fatalities occur around prom and graduation time.

In addition to an increase in teen drinking around these events, there is also an increase in nerves and excitement. It has been determined that the crash rate for teens goes up with additional passengers in the car, as this causes added distractions. A 2012 study by AAA concluded that the risk increases by almost half when a 16- or 17-year-old driver has one teenage passenger, doubles with two teenage passengers, and quadruples with three or more. Remember this when your child is a driver or a passenger.

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) says that instant and text messaging are the biggest distraction while driving. Yet, even while teens rate text messaging as very distracting, they continue to receive and send text messages while they drive, according to a study by SADD and Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The majority of teen vehicle crash deaths involve unbuckled teens, drivers, and passengers. Seat belt use among teens is the lowest for any age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Male teens also continue to lag behind female teens in seatbelt use. The NHTSA calls seat belts the single most effective safety devise for preventing death and injury. They report that wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50%.

Don’t wait until your teen is old enough to drive to start modeling good behaviors. If you talk on the phone, text, speed or drive without your seat belt, so might your teen.
In the coming weeks, millions of teens will mark graduation and the end of their high school years. Take every opportunity to ensure their safety. According to MADD, teens whose parents communicate that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80% less likely to drink than teens who receive other messages.

Have conversations with your teen today about the dangers of drinking and driving. Set rules and guidelines and enforce them. Let your teen know that these rules don’t just apply to graduation time, but all year long. Make sure to discuss with your teen how to handle difficult situations, such as being asked to partake in alcohol consumption or other risky behavior. Also, consider offering a “no questions asked” ride home if the teen does need one. Keep the lines of communication open and help your teen have a safe end to the school year.

Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is a family owned firm with over five decades of Pennsylvania personal injury experience. We are committed to the community in which we operate. If you are injured, we can fight for you. For information, visit www.munley.com.

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