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Disconcerting trends in teen driving

Oklahoma motorists may be surprised to learn that texting has surpassed drinking in terms of the numbers of fatal teen car accidents caused each year by these actions. Teens may be viewed as more prone to accidents due to inexperience. However, a sense of invincibility may also be responsible for young people participating in dangerous or illegal driving behaviors as they assume that they won't be adversely affected through car wrecks.

Drunk driving statistics for teens have been a concern for many decades, and in current studies, it is reported that intoxicated driving on the part of young drivers under 21 years of age is responsible for at least 17 percent of fatal DUI car accidents. This is viewed as disproportionate because teens only represent one-tenth of those licensed to drive. This continues to be a serious concern in spite of laws that allow for DUI charges against underage drivers in cases of very low BAC.

While DUI is responsible for an estimated 2,000 teen deaths each year, texting while driving results in approximately 3,000 fatalities. As cellphone use has become more widespread, various uses of wireless devices can contribute to distracted driving. Some states, including Oklahoma, have passed laws to guard against some or all use of wireless devices while driving. Others are still working toward legal consequences for driving distractions.

Parents may worry about the dangers posed if their teens ride with friends who are involved in behaviors such as texting or drinking while driving, and these issues should be discussed. As their teens become licensed drivers, it is especially important to instruct them about the legal consequences of actually engaging in these behaviors while driving. Further, it is important for teens to realize that their families could face devastating legal and financial outcomes because of an auto accident involving such behavior.

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