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Teen drivers at high risk of accidents

It's almost time for one of the deadliest seasons of the year for young drivers — prom time. Parents, are your kids safe behind the wheel?

Sadly, the rate of auto accident fatalities for those age 13 to 19 was approximately 33 percent in one recent year. Of all drivers, newly licensed 16-year-old have a higher accident rate than any other age driver.

Some statistics indicate that the risk of driver deaths for those age 16 and 17 escalate with every passenger that accompanies them in the car.

Why are these rates so high? Inexperience behind the wheel is a factor, and 20 percent of teen drivers will be involved in accidents in their first year of being a licensed driver.

But there are other, preventable factors as well. One factor is cellphone usage, as 56 percent of teenagers admit to carrying on phone conversations behind the wheel. Not only does this single factor double teens' risk of accidents, it diminishes their reaction time to the rate of drivers who are 70 years old.

Another factor is night driving; over 40 percent of teen traffic fatalities happen after 9 p.m. and before 6 a.m. The risk of getting into a wreck rises incrementally with every mile they drive over the posted speeds.

If all of this seems frightening to parents who may be reluctant to turn over the keys to their teens, consider this — only 44 percent of teen passengers state that they would say something if a friend's driving scared them.

If your teen is injured in an accident while riding with a friend, it will be up to you to initiate a claim for damages for their injuries against the insurance company of the at-fault driver.

Source: DoSomething.org, "11 Facts about Teen Driving," accessed April 22, 2016

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