Traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death among U.S. teens

Memphis area residents can likely recall the thrill and excitement of first being able to drive. For many teenagers, a driver's license equates to freedom and independence. Unfortunately, some teen drivers lack the experience and, in some cases, the maturity, to handle the many responsibilities that comes with operating a motor vehicle.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more teenagers are killed in motor vehicle accidents than from any other cause. During 2011 alone, car accidents claimed the lives of more than 2,600 U.S. teens ages 16 to 19. Teen boys are particularly at risk of dying or being injured in a car accident and succumb to such a fate at a rate three times that of teenage girls.

In an effort to keep teens drivers safe until they gain more driving experience, states like Tennessee have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing programs. Tennessee teens, ages 15 to 17, must participate in a three-phase program during which time a teen must abide by certain driving restrictions and requirements. Under Tennessee's GDL program, parents play a major role in helping provide guidance and supervision to teen drivers who are required to obtain 50 hours of supervised behind the wheel experience.

In addition to lawfully participating in the state's GDL program, teen drivers would be wise to take steps to protect against two of the other major contributors to teen crashes; failing to wear a seat belt and drinking and driving. Additionally, teen drivers are reminded to avoid speeding, driving while fatigued and overestimating their driving abilities.

Source: CDC.gov, "Teen Drivers: Get the Facts," 2015

Tennessee Government, "Graduated Driver License Program," 2015

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