CONSUMER REPORTS: Young Drivers Danger

Car accidents are the number one killer of teenagers. Nearly three-thousand teens die in crashes every year, more than from cancer, gun violence, or drug use.

Consumer Reports says attacking the problem on many fronts can go a long way to preventing tragedy.

Renee Pisarz says her 18-year-old son Stephen was just a few miles from his destination when his car skidded on ice and flipped several times, killing him and injuring his passenger.

Pisarz says, "We'll never be the same. To lose a child is the greatest loss."

What haunts Renee is that Stephen was not wearing a seat belt, a factor in about 60 percent of fatal car accidents for teens.

Distractions like texting or talking on the phone are also factors. And in fatal accidents 27 percent of young drivers were drunk.

Liza Barth of Consumer Reports says, "The first year of driving is the riskiest. Actually, 16-year-olds are three times more likely to get in a crash than 18-or-19-year-olds."

Consumer Reports says traditional drivers ed isn't enough and recommends advanced training programs to teach teens how to handle emergency situations and become safer drivers.

And Consumer Reports says new technology like Ford's programmable MyKey reminds teens to do the right thing.

Barth says, "Ford's MyKey has some interesting features. A teen can't put the radio on until the seat belt is fastened. And also parents can set a top driving speed."

The car itself is also important.

Barth says, "Parents tend to buy their teens older cars because they're less expensive, but they don't have the latest safety features and that can make all the difference."

Consumer Reports says two really important safety features for teens...electronic stability control and side curtain air bags.

There is some good news-far fewer teens are dying in car crashes now than they used to-due in large part to graduated driver licensing.

These laws place restrictions on teen drivers, like limiting late-night driving and the number of passengers. States with the strongest laws have seen a clear reduction in the number of crashes and fatalities.

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