Sandstrom: New legislation gives teens a voice in traffic safety programming
I am a teenager. I stay up too late. I wake up too late. I get emotional. I don’t want my parents circling me like hawks, and I definitely don’t want them to try to tell me what to do, especially behind the wheel. However, now that students are falling back into the school routine, it’s time for everyone to pay attention to teen safety on the road.
Daily, young people get behind the wheel to go to class, work or activities, but if you’re a teen driver like me, your odds on the road aren’t good. Young drivers are the most dangerous type of driver, to themselves and to everyone else. According to the Centers for Disease Control, individuals ages 15-24 represent only 14 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for almost 30 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries – leaving them highly overrepresented.
The disproportionate number of teen crashes is the result of several key factors. One of the central reasons is the obvious – lack of experience. Teens are more likely to underestimate risky situations and to be unable to recognize hazardous ones. They are also more likely to tailgate the vehicle in front of them, reducing their reaction time if necessary. Also, because the judgment center of their brains is still developing, teens are more susceptible to the influences of peer pressure and emotion.
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