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Car Crashes are the Leading Cause of Death for U.S. Teens

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among people ages 16 to 20, with nearly 2,500 teens killed a year due to car wrecks. One study based on a national survey of teens between 13 and 19 concluded that about 40% of teenagers polled said they had been in cars where the driver is a teenager who is talking or texting while behind the wheel.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) states that teen drivers are among the riskiest drivers on the road, crashing four times more than adult drivers. A recent study by sought to determine which states were the best and worst for teen drivers. The study analyzed effectiveness of graduated driver's license components; driver fatalities per 100,000 people; teen drinking and driving rates; teen texting/emailing and driving rates; and average annual insurance costs for teen drivers. This study concluded that West Virginia was in the center for teen driving risk. According to the study, 36 percent of teen drivers in West Virginia reported driving and texting or emailing. This is relatively low compared to South Dakota's 61 percent. While most states, including West Virginia, have a graduated licensing system, a study of 500 parents suggests that 59 percent of parents allow their children to break at least one of the graduated license rules.

Because teens are the riskiest drivers on the road, AAA offers tips to create a safer environment behind the wheel for your teen driver including:

· Seat belt use

· Educating and practicing how to drive in more dangerous conditions like rain, snow, darkness, and heavy traffic.

· Talking with your teen about the importance of resisting peer pressure while behind the wheel;

· Discouraging cell phone use and texting while driving;

· Educating your teen on the dangers of speed; and

· Enforcing a zero tolerance policy about driving after having any alcohol.

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