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Tennessee ranks 12th in number of fatal teen accidents

As many parents in Tennessee likely know, it is against the law for a teen to drive with a carload of other teens in our state. Despite this, Tennessee has a 15 percent fatality rate for car accidents involving drivers between 16 and 17 years of age. This is the 12th highest rate in the nation. Some officials think that this high rate is due to the love of cars in the South and the large number of winding, rural roads with few hospitals nearby.

Understandably, car accidents can happen to anyone at any age. However, reports state that teens in a car with others are more likely to be involved in a car crash than those who are driving alone. Others say that not wearing seat belts, distracted driving, speeding and underage drinking are all contributing factors to the troubling statistic.

Although teen car accident deaths have dropped in recent years, one observer attributes that to the recession. With more parents out of work or suffering financially, they are unable to buy their teenage children a car of their own. When teens do get cars of their own, they drive more, resulting in a greater chance of a car accident that results in injury or even death.

Officials working with Vanderbilt Children's Hospital are working with schools and other organizations to speak with students about the dangers of driving while distracted. Whether the distraction is friends talking or texting while driving, it can lead to serious car accidents. And now that May is upon us, understanding the risks of teen driving is more important than ever. Reports indicate that teen driving accidents increase during the summer months.

Whatever the reasons, the simple fact is that teenagers, particularly new drivers, face risks when they get behind the wheel. However, that does not mean teens should not drive. Tennessee parents may want to consider having a frank discussion with their teen drivers about the risks of distracted driving. It could go a long way toward preventing serious accidents.

Source: WBIR, "TN's teen drivers pay price for inexperience," Tom Wilemon, April 24, 2012

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