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Youth and Driving Don't Always Mix Safely
Date:5/23/2009

Teens' opinions of their driving prowess pose risks on the road, experts say,,

SATURDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- Teen drivers are more likely than adults to crash their car, due to their youth and inexperience -- but don't try telling them that.

Studies have found that teens have an overblown sense of their driving prowess, one that can and does put them in the middle of some truly terrible crashes. They also don't understand that distractions such as cell phones and teenage passengers can make driving more dangerous.

"Kids tend to judge their experience on getting a license," said Dr. Kenneth R. Ginsburg of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "The truth is that getting a driver's license is the very first step to gaining experience."

It's an established fact that young drivers crash more often than older drivers, and with worse consequences. People between 15 and 24 years old represent just 14 percent of the United States population, but they account for 30 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28 percent among females, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2005, 4,544 teens ages 16 to 19 died of injuries incurred in crashes, the CDC says. That same year, nearly 400,000 teenage passengers or drivers of vehicles involved in crashes sustained injuries severe enough to require treatment in an emergency department.

"A new driver at any age is going to have a higher crash rate, but with teenagers, you're combining that experience deficit with immaturity and risk-taking," said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Ginsburg headed a study that asked high-school students their opinions of a number of risky driving situations. Sixty percent of the students said that driving experience was very important, but only 15 p
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