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Talk to your teen about distracted driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States; in 2010, seven drivers aged 16 to 19 years died every day as a result of accidents. A recent study of teen driving behavior attempts to identify some of the risk factors that lead to these fatal crashes, which may be helpful in preventing future accidents.

One surprising finding sticks out: apparently teens are 28 more likely to send text messages while driving than their parents expect. While it seems that most of the parents surveyed believe that their teens practice safe driving behavior, those young drivers are still likely to drive while distracted.

The study was conducted by a major automotive company and the University of Michigan. Researchers surveyed more than 5,500 people in the United States, including teen drivers and their parents.

About 54 percent of the teens surveyed also admitted to talking on hand-held cell phones while driving. Furthermore, 69 percent of teens regularly drive with other teens and without adult supervision. Having other young drivers in the car can be dangerous because it leaves teens more vulnerable to distraction. In addition, peer pressure to disregard safety or drive recklessly may take a toll.

These findings show the importance of taking the time to discuss distracted driving with your teen. Most young drivers are confident that they can send or read a text message without sacrificing safety but it is important to take a hard line on distractions in the car.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted or negligent driver it is wise to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away. They can help you pursue any appropriate legal claims for damages, allowing you to focus on recovering and getting back to your life.

Source: Bloomberg, "Teens Text More While Driving Than Parents Think: Study," Alan Ohnsman, Nov. 27, 2012

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