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TEEN DRIVERS

Reporters Terri Langford and Yang Wang recently did an excellent article in the Houston Chronicle concerning the likelihood of teen drivers to be involved in fatal accidents at night. The article noted that while the number of teen drivers involved in fatal car wrecks has dropped across the country over the last 10 years, the proportion of teen drivers ages 16 to 19 involved in nighttime fatal accidents has risen by 5%. These figures come from a recent study released by the Texas Transportation Institute.

Not surprisingly, there is suspicion that there is a correlation between the increased number of crashes and the use of cell phones by inexperienced drivers. The Department of Public Safety urged parents of newly licensed drivers to provide extra supervision and instruction for these young people. Teenagers are more often involved in fatal collisions. When the conditions were either dark, or dark, but like you. Nationwide, about half of fatal crashes among teenagers occurred at night in 2008. But in Harris County, during the same time period, 19 of 27 fatal wrecks involving young/teen drivers (70%) happened at night.

Besides the cell phone distraction, it was reported that other risk factors during this time period included a combination of the visibility challenges caused by dark conditions, slower response time brought about by fatigue, and a lack of experience driving under such conditions. However, the experts believe there is a likely correlation between the rapid use of cell phones and the increased number of fatal accidents.

We encourage all parents and supervisors of young drivers to work with their children to promote safe driving habits — — especially at night.

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