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Teens may benefit from 'realistic' drivers' ed programs

Teens in Louisiana are often singled out as being among the drivers more likely to take risks when behind the wheel. Results from a university study suggest younger drivers may gain a better awareness of the potential risks if they participate in supplemental drivers' education programs. The one referenced in the study involved an emergency room tour and visits to a morgue and an intensive care unit to emphasize the consequences of reckless driving. Motor vehicle collisions are the top cause of accidental teen deaths in the United States, according to the CDC.

Each participant in the program was a negligent driver referred by the court or a parent. At the beginning of the supplemental drivers' ed program, teens were asked to identify their most frequent risky driving behaviors within the previous 30 days. The top responses included texting, driving on interstates or freeways and driving late at night. Different parts of the six-hour program included a hospital tour, discussions with staff about their experiences with crash victims, videos and lectures.

The teens were asked to rank driving risks in order of severity. Most participants ranked driving drunk, speeding and not using a seatbelt at the top of their lists. However, very few considered driver distractions like listening to music as serious. They were also quizzed on topics such as the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level for drivers aged 21 and under. Following the completion of the program, most participants displayed an increased awareness of driving hazards and the potential impact of peer influence on their decisions. Parental monitoring of driving behaviors and the establishment of additional driving rules also increased as a result of the program.

While the results of this study are encouraging, teen drivers are still responsible for their actions while behind the wheel. Should a car accident cause someone to sustain serious injuries, an attorney may review cellphone records or talk to witnesses to determine if distractions might have been a contributing factor. If negligence is involved, a lawyer typically helps injured clients seek appropriate compensation for such damages as lost wages and medical expenses.

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