THURSDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- The number of teen driver-related fatalities has dropped by almost half in the last six years, and the number of teen passengers killed in crashes involving teen drivers fell 30 percent in the United States from 2008 to 2011, a new national safety study reported Thursday.
On the other hand, the report on teen drivers found that texting, email, speeding and drinking remain deadly distractions.
The findings, from a joint report by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance, showed positive news in that 54 percent of teen passengers reported that they always used seat belts.
And there were other encouraging trends among teen passengers from 2008 to 2011:
"When most people think about those affected by teen driver crashes, they think of teens behind the wheel. This report includes encouraging news about teen passengers, who are often left out of the teen driver safety picture," study lead author Dr. Dennis Durbin, co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP, said in a hospital news release.
"When you see the needle move, as we have in this report, it's time to apply the gas on programs that encourage safe teen passenger behaviors, as well as those that address what causes teens to crash," he added.
Despite the progress outlined in the study, a number of risky behaviors remain serious problems. These include texting or emailing while driving, drinking and driving, and low levels of seat belt use.
The study found that one-third of teens say they have recently texted or emailed
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