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Car accidents remain leading cause of death for Texas teenagers

It is no surprise that teenagers become more skilled drivers with time and experience. However, a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety points out just how much difference a year makes. According to the study, teenagers are 50 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident during their first month of driving than they are after a year behind the wheel. In addition, they are twice as likely to crash during the first month than after two years of driving.

This week marks the third annual National Teen Driver Safety Week, which was created to raise awareness and education regarding the high fatality rate among teenage drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), more than 2,300 teenage drivers were killed in car accidents in the U.S. in 2009, the latest year for which data was available. Approximately 70 percent of teenagers killed were male.

The NHTSA reports that there were three common mistakes that were at least partially responsible for more than half of the 2009 accidents involving teen drivers. Those mistakes were a failure to pay sufficient attention, a failure to slow down at appropriate times, and a failure to yield to other vehicles.

While lack of driving experience certainly contributes to these common mistakes, it is also likely that distraction and peer pressure are responsible as well as a result of teen drivers shifting from parents as passengers to friends and classmates. However, Texas parents can continue to enforce safe driving behaviors in their children, talking to their teens about safe driving habits and behaviors and setting rules regarding passengers.

Source: Washington Post, "Teen drivers most likely to crash in first month of solo driving," Mark Berman, Oct. 15, 2011

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