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Morgue visits demonstrate consequences to teens

South Carolina parents and educators may be interested in a program designed to reduce high-risk behaviors commonly associated with teens and other young drivers. Statistics show that teens are more likely than the general population to engage in speeding and alcohol and drug use while operating a vehicle. These unsafe behaviors are part of the reason motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of deaths among teenagers in the United States.

Researchers from Baylor University worked with a hospital, the court system and educators to identify teens targeted for disciplinary action. In lieu of other punishment, teens with drivers' licenses were given the option of participating in a one-day class designed to raise awareness regarding unsafe driving practices and the potential consequences of such behavior. Students in the study were administered a questionnaire prior to the class that was designed to identify high-risk driving behavior. Ninety percent of the class admitted to texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel within 30 days of the class.

Students were then given tours of intensive care units, emergency rooms and the hospital morgue, where they were given real-world examples of serious injuries and deaths associated with automobile accidents. Even a moment of distraction can have deadly consequences since a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour will travel the length of a football field in just five seconds of distraction, which was identified as the average time required to check a text message.

Unfortunately, while students definitely became more aware of the hazards, it remains unclear as to whether the raised level of awareness translated to safer driving. A follow-up questionnaire two months after the study revealed that most students were still regularly texting and driving. Researchers are now debating the merits of a lengthier program incorporating similar integrative strategies.

Whenever distractions cause car accidents, there can be long-reaching consequences. Consulting a qualified injury lawyer can provide options and peace of mind for accident victims.

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