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Improvements and challenges for teen drivers

Teen drivers encounter many challenges as they begin their lifetime of driving. While they have the advantages of youth, with good health, eyesight and reflexes, they must face a significant disadvantage when they get behind the wheel; that of not having driven before.

Sure, they have ridden in cars as long as they have been alive, first in car seat and then on their own. But most of that experience comes from the backseat, often with little attention paid to what mom or dad was doing in the front seat as they drove the roads of eastern Pennsylvania. 

It is very different, with 200 horsepower and one to 3 tons of machinery under their control. Especially when the car in front of them suddenly slams on its brakes or a truck swerves into their lane, head on.

They don't have time to think, but they also don't have the muscle memory or experience to react properly. Sometimes, they are just lucky.

Sadly, they are not always lucky. Car accidents remain the leading killer of teens. However, youthful vigor and good health does nothing to protect from drunk driving and distracted driving caused by texting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys teens every other year to capture a snapshot of teen heath and the risks to their health. The survey found that while more teens than ever are buckling up, which is good if they do get into a car accident, more than 40 percent text while driving and 10 percent have drank alcohol before driving.

Other risks are improving, with fewer smoking, which shows the benefit of strong restrictions on cigarettes and a consistent message on smoking prevention.

In addition, it suggests that to prevent cellphone and texting use from becoming a greater threat, more efforts should be focused to warn teen drivers of the risk of the dangerous behavior.

Source: NBCNews.com, "Teen Smoking, Sex Hit New Lows But Texting, Fat Are New Dangers," Maggie Fox, June 12, 2014

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