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Improving Teen Driving Safety, Part I

The number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States is auto crashes, according to federal traffic safety data.

Overall, more than 80,000 people died in auto wrecks involving drivers ages 15 to 20 in the 10-year period from 2000 to2009. As a result, nationwide advocates of safer driving are supporting stricter laws on teenage driving.

According to a National Safety Council report, those advocates and insurance companies say clamping down on teenage behind-the-wheel laws with a universal graduated licensing program could save as many as 2,000 lives and $13 billion annually. Graduated driver's license (GDL) programs are meant to restrict teenagers with more than just a provisional license until age 18.

The report also found that existing GDL programs ban texting while driving and other cell phone use. Furthermore, they restrict nighttime driving for 16- and 17-year olds.

Texas passed a graduated driver's license program in 2002. The law provides, among other things, that those 16 and 17 must drive with an adult of at least 21 and hold a learner's license for at least six months.

Now if only other states would get on board, the safety council says.

To learn more about the nationwide movement for graduated driver's licensing programs, check back for our next blog post.

Related resource: MSNBC.com, "Study: Tougher teen driving laws would save lives, money."

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