It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 17-23), So Talk to Your Kids

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Christoph Martin

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens — 16-to-19-year-olds are four times more likely to be in a fatal car crash than 25-to-69-year-olds — so it makes sense to devote a week to a national discussion about safe driving. That’s this week (Oct. 17-23): National Teen Driver Safety Week. And if overall distracted driving rates are any indication, adults could use a refresher course anyway.

This year’s Teen Driver Safety Week theme is distracted driving — taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task at hand for any reason — an increasingly recognized threat to highway safety. Research shows that inexperienced drivers under age 20 are the most likely to have fatal distraction-related accidents. (More on Study: Car Crash Rates Increased Despite ‘Texting While Driving’ Bans).

A University of Utah study found that using a cell phone behind the wheel — regardless of whether or not it is hands-free — increases a driver’s reaction time equal to someone with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration, the legal threshold for intoxication.

Teen passengers also increase the risk of distracted driving: one teen in the passenger seat of a young driver’s car doubles the risk of fatal crash, while three or more teen passengers quadruples the risk. (More on Why Are Black Bikers More Likely to Die in Crashes than Whites?).

To learn more, see Teen Driver Source — a research tool compiled by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance, the organizations that launched National Teen Driver Safety Week in 2007.

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