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Back to School Brings Risks to Young Drivers; Traffic Crashes Leading Cause of Teen Death, Says National Road Safety Foundation

Thursday, September 17, 2009 General News J E 4
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NEW YORK, Sept. 3 As millions of teens head back to school, many will be driving to and from classes every day.

Teens are at a greater risk of than any other age group to be involved in a crash, due largely to lack of experience. Many of those crashes could be avoided with proper education, says The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), a non-profit group that produces free driver education programs.

NRSF spokesperson David Reich said common mistakes by new drivers include tailgating, speeding and poor judgment, especially when making left-hand turns across oncoming traffic. Some, despite warnings and laws, ignore the dangers of drinking and driving. Crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate 31 percent of teens involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

Distraction is major hazard for teen drivers. In addition to talking on cell phones and texting, other distractions that take a driver's attention from the road include talking with passengers in the car, tuning the radio or iPod, or reaching for coffee or a water bottle. "Driving requires our full attention," Reich said.

Drowsy driving is another risky behavior common among young drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 100,000 crashes every year are due to driver fatigue, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries.

Several signs warn a driver to stop and rest:

A driver who experiences any of these should pull over at the next exit or a safe rest area and take a break or a 20-minute nap. Have a cup of coffee or caffeinated snacks and allow 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter the bloodstream. Don't drink alcohol or take medication.

"Drowsy driving poses a real risk to everyone on the road," Reich said. He cited a recent study that showed nearly one-third of all drivers have dozed at the wheel. "At highway speeds, dozing off for even three or four seconds can send you off the road and into a tree or out of your lane into oncoming traffic. Drowsy driving is, in our opinion, as dangerous as drunk driving."

NRSF recently released its latest free program, "No Way Back," which includes four video vignettes of young people who suffered traumatic brain injury as a result of traffic crashes.

Free copies of "No Way Back" and other NRSF programs on speed and aggression, drinking and driving, and drowsy driving can be ordered online or downloaded from The National Road Safety Foundation' website at www.nrsf.org. Multiple copies can be ordered, also free of charge, for use in classrooms and other group showings.

To see press release go to http://myprgenie.com/2434

Contact: David Reich, david@reichcommunications.com, 212 573-6000

-- Difficulty focusing,, frequent blinking -- Daydreaming, not remembering the last few miles driven -- Head nodding -- Repeated yawning, rubbing eyes -- Drifting out of lane, tailgating, hitting rumble strips

SOURCE The National Road Safety Foundation
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