Study shows distracted teen drivers kill thousands per year

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That text can wait.  Teen drivers killed nearly 3,500 people from 2013 to 2017, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The AAA looked at the period it calls “100 Deadliest Days” — from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  The study focused on drivers ages 15 to 18.

About 52% of teenage drivers admitted to reading a text message or email while driving, the study noted, while  nearly 40% said they sent a text or email. Fifty-eight percent of teen crashes were a result of distractions such as not using a hands-free device, or texting or reading on their cellphone.

Penalties for texting while driving across the country can vary from a fine, points or suspension of one’s license. Novice drivers face up to $300 in fines if they are caught violating the law in Ohio.

Speeding and driving after drinking also caused some of the deadly crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

“Crash data shows that teens are a vulnerable driver group with a higher probability of being involved in crashes,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA, in a statement. “And while teens may make mistakes when first learning to drive, it is important to continue educating them about safety behind the wheel so they avoid the reckless behaviors that put themselves and others at risk on the road.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving. Forty-eight states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers, while Missouri only prohibits text messaging by novice or teen drivers.

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