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New thoughts about teen driving derived from new study

A new study on teenage driving that was conducted by State Farm Insurance and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia may change the general perspective of teenage driving from focusing on the teenage driver to those who can be hurt by a teenage caused car accident. The study shows that 30 percent of people who are fatally injured from a teenage driver are not in the teenage driver's car. According to the new study one-third of those killed by teen drivers are pedestrians, occupants of other vehicles and bicyclists.

The co-director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia says the study is important because it challenges the view of teenage driving and refocuses the public's attention from the teenage driver to other users of the road. Car accidents are also the number one killer among teenagers. Fatal car accidents caused by teen drivers account for 24 percent of teenage deaths in the United States. Inexperience is often the cause of the accidents and therefore many accidents can be prevented.

Researchers also found four central behaviors that affect teenage driving. Those behaviors are: speeding, alcohol use, the use of seat belts and distracted driving. The behaviors and a mixture of them are the story of many teenage car accidents. Seat belt use tops the list. Over 50 percent of teenage drivers who were killed in a car accident were not wearing a seat belt. Speeding ranks just as high as seat belt use and just over half of the number of teenage drivers who were killed in car accidents were speeding. Forty percent of teenage drivers had alcohol in their bloodstream at the time of their fatal accidents and distracted driving caused 16 percent.

Source: The Times Herald, "Study shows others affected by teen car wrecks," Carl Hessler Jr., 1/25/11

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