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Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro
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Teen Driven Cars – A Dangerous But Inevitable Combination

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Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for 18 to 20 year old people in America. About 5,500 deaths and 450,000 injuries occur each year involving teen driving.

Wrecks involving teens are probably most attributable to inexperience and judgment errors caused by not having enough time behind the wheel. Thus, practice driving is key. Each state, including Virginia, mandates a certain amount of practice time for teenagers starting with the learner’s permit. Only by logging enough hours can a teenager learn how to safely handle all of the important challenges of driving a vehicle.

There are resources to help parents learn how to teach their kids to drive. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles puts out a guidebook on this, which can be downloaded at www.dmv.virginia.gov. Another resource put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to require a safe driving contract with their teens. A copy of such a document can be found at www.aap.org. Another internet resource on the subject is www.safeteendriving.org.

Being a safe driver and avoiding auto accidents is not something you are born with. It is something that you have to learn. The lessons that an adult may have learned over decades of driving need to be re-enforced as early as possible with teenagers. Even basic methods of avoiding car crashes may not be obvious to a teenager, such as not driving when you are sleepy and avoiding distractions while driving. Teenagers with multiple passengers in their vehicle also create a risk of motor vehicle crashes. Having other kids in the car tends to distract the driver. Focusing all of your attention on the road is critical. Teenagers need to be told not to use their cell phones or to blast their music while driving. With a little practice, your teenager has a better chance of making it safely to Carnegie Hall or wherever their destination may be.