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Study: Inexperienced teen drivers 3 times as likely to crash

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that inexperienced teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are three times more likely than adults to become involved in a car accident with a fatality. This has led a number of safety groups to issue a warning now, while summer is at its height.

Summer is a time of fun and relaxation for most teens, but summer is also one of the deadliest times of year for auto accidents -- and teens are already the group with the highest rate of accidents.

"Statistics show teens are more likely to be involved in a crash causing significant injuries, which is devastating emotionally," said one insurance commissioner, "and also financially, as it can cause your insurance rates to nearly double."

The main reason teens get into serious and deadly car accidents is inexperience, according to the AAA Foundation. In summer, however, teens spend a lot more time on the road than other times of year, and more time on the road is strongly tied to more accidents.

The main topic of the research, however, was distracted driving, and the researchers did find a strong correlation between crashes and distraction among teens. Previous research by the AAA Foundation was able to discover some interesting information about texting among teens. The study focused on the six seconds leading up to a crash.

For those who were using their cell phones before a crash, whether it was for a phone call, a text or another use, those final six seconds were telling. The teens took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 of those six seconds.

Furthermore, teens who were using cellphones simply didn't react before impact in over half the cases. That means they took no evasive maneuvers and failed even to brake before the crash.

According to the National Safety Council, 2016 may have been among the deadliest years ever on our nation's highways. Ubiquitous cellphone use is almost certainly a factor, yet social media and texting continue to provide serious distractions for teens.

The good news is that parents can have a real impact on their kids' driving behavior by modeling appropriate driving. Always buckling up, avoiding distractions generally and staying off your phone while in the car are all norms parenting can imprint on their kids.

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