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Driving With Friends Can be Hazardous to a Teen's Health

According to a recent study, the biggest danger to a teen driver's life may occur while he or she is giving a friend a lift. The study concluded that a teen driving with a couple of friends in the car can triple a teen's risk for a fatal auto accident.

The study, conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention found from a survey of 198 teen drivers, that only a minority of teens said that they were likely to drive with friends. The drivers that said that they were likely to drive with many friends also described themselves as thrill-seekers and risk takers.

These teens also said that their parents did not regularly keep track of their driving activities or set rules on driving. They were also more likely to be unaware of the dangers of risky driving.

The study also surveyed 677 teen drivers who were involved in serious car accidents in the past. Out of the 677 who said that they were distracted before the car accident, 71 percent of males and 47 percent of females said that they were distracted by what their passengers were doing.

Car accidents are the leading killer of teens ages 16 to 19. The study found that the main reason for this is because teen drivers are more likely to speed, blow through red lights, tailgate and engage in other risky maneuvers, if they are driving with their friends as passengers. The study concluded that with each young passenger in the car, the risk of the teen driver being involved in a fatal accident doubles.

Experts say that graduated driving laws-laws that restrict when and with whom a teen may drive-do not go far enough. It is recommended that parents take an active role when their son or daughter is learning to drive, such as making the teen sign a driving contract, clarifying driving rules, expectations and punishments for not living up to them.

Source: "Reducing teen traffic accidents," Philly.com, 2/13/12

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