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Accidental Articleaccident

Here I sit, kissing my deadline, without a single interesting idea to write about. In an effort to jumpstart my brain I thumb through a couple of popular magazines for young people to see what topics they’re covering. Wow, what a mind numbing experience this is. It makes me very sad to see that publishers think all that you, America’s youth, need to know is which lip gloss is “in” this season and who’s divorcing whom for that other celebrity…

Then I ran across an article in CNN/Money that stopped me in my tracks. So, thanks to the trusty Internet, I’ve got something important to tell you. Did you know that 5,500 to 6,000 young people die each year in car crashes, the #1 reason for loss of life in your age group. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), mile-for-mile, teens wreck their cars four times as often as older drivers.

There are several contributing factors, the top three are inexperience, overconfidence, and, more than ever, distracted drivers.

What doesn’t work
IIHS says that one of the most relied upon methods may make things worse. They say that driver’s education tends to focus on the skills required to pass the test, not stay alive. The classes that teach more advanced driving skills are also counter-productive. Male drivers who take these classes actually have a higher crash rate. This may be because the classes increase the driver’s confidence, attempting risky, high-speed maneuvers that a more experienced driver would simply avoid.

The Allstate Foundation, a not-for-profit group funded by the Allstate insurance company, is trying a new approach, teens teaching one another about driver safety. Among other things, they sponsor teens having been involved in traffic accidents to speak to other teens about their experiences. It’ll be interesting to see whether this has an impact on the statistics.

What works
Okay, don’t shoot the messenger…the one thing that seems to keep the number of incidents down is restricting privileges to young drivers and waiting until the age of 18 to issue unrestricted licenses. Newly licensed drivers are less likely to crash the older they are.

Slow down, pay attention, make driving the priority when you’re behind the wheel. I remember both of the phone calls I received from my sixteen year old at the scene of both accidents. I speak for all your parents; we know what can happen to you and breathe a little easier when you arrive home safely at the end of each day