Distracted teen drivers a deadly mix - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Distracted teen drivers a deadly mix

January 26, 2007

Albany- Traffic crashes are the number one killer of American teens. Nearly 80 percent of all crashes happen within seconds of a driver's distraction. Stricter teen driving laws in Georgia seem to be making a difference, and they may get even stricter.

Quantavias Allen is like most teen drivers, as soon as he hits the road, he's got the radio going.

"I listen to the radio a lot, sometimes I talk on the phone," said Quantavias Allen, a 19 year old driver.

Allen admits it's a distraction. Another distraction may soon be illegal. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to use a cell phone while driving. To cut down on distractions they've already limited how many teens can pile in.

"For every teenager that is added, every unrelated passenger that is added into a vehicle with as teen driver the rate for a crash goes up exponentially," said Michele DeMott, Albany Safe Communities.

With Technology today it's easy for any driver to get distracted especially teens that's why driving instructors are working with teens to put down those distractions.

"People keep forcing technology, gadgets to us and they're installing them in cars, you plug an IPOD into a socket that's built in, those types of things," said Bill Hammack, Albany Tech Drivers Training Instructor.

While the distractions keep coming, Georgia's graduated license program is working. Since enacted 5 years ago, the number of teens killed in crashes had fallen by 38 percent.

"Teenagers that have been involved in graduated drivers licensing from the beginning are less likely to be convicted of a speeding related offense, they're less likely to have been convicted of a DUI offense," said DeMott.

While blocking out those distraction may take practice.

"I think that's just part of driving, well maybe sending text messages could cause an accident," said Allen.

Better educating teens to the risks and consequences of driving distracted could save a life. Right now in Georgia, nearly a quarter of all 16 year olds are involved in some sort of crash during their first year of driving.

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