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Back to School Brings Risks to Young Drivers; Traffic Crashes Leading Cause of Teen Death, Says National Road Safety Foundation
Date:9/3/2009

NEW YORK, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- As millions of teens head back to school, many will be driving to and from classes every day.

Teens are at a greater risk of than any other age group to be involved in a crash, due largely to lack of experience. Many of those crashes could be avoided with proper education, says The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), a non-profit group that produces free driver education programs.

NRSF spokesperson David Reich said common mistakes by new drivers include tailgating, speeding and poor judgment, especially when making left-hand turns across oncoming traffic. Some, despite warnings and laws, ignore the dangers of drinking and driving. Crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate 31 percent of teens involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

Distraction is major hazard for teen drivers. In addition to talking on cell phones and texting, other distractions that take a driver's attention from the road include talking with passengers in the car, tuning the radio or iPod, or reaching for coffee or a water bottle. "Driving requires our full attention," Reich said.

Drowsy driving is another risky behavior common among young drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 100,000 crashes every year are due to driver fatigue, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries.

Several signs warn a driver to stop and rest:

  • Difficulty focusing,, frequent blinking
  • Daydreaming, not remembering the last few miles driven
  • Head nodding
  • Repeated yawning, rubbing eyes
  • Drifting out of lane, tailgating, hitting rumble strips

A driver who experiences any of these should pull over at the next exit or a safe rest area and take a break or a 20-minute nap
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SOURCE The National Road Safety Foundation
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