AAA: Car crashes still leading cause of death for US teens

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – AAA says motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for teens in the United States and a new study commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Health reveals many parents are unaware of the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing guidelines.

The study showed 14 percent of parents who currently have teen drivers or have in the last five years were unaware of the law. The GDL law includes restrictions on passengers, cell phone use and driving at night. It also includes required practice driving time.

“Graduated Driver License programs are responsible for decreasing fatal and injury crashes among teen drivers, but parental involvement is key in keeping teen drivers safe,” said Stephanie Milani with AAA.

During the learner permit stage, no driving is allowed between 10 p.m .and 6 a.m. At the intermediate stage, the hours go to 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Knoxville teen proactive about learning driving laws

Lindsey Von Hagen made the decision to take a driving class at Drive 4 Life Academy in Knoxville.

“I think it’s good to be prepared when you go out on the roads and know the right habits and know how to operate the vehicle,” said the 15-year-old. “There’s a lot of crazy drivers on the roads and I don’t want to be one of them so I want to have as much input as I can on my driving.”

Bobby Odom, an instructor at the academy said they try to teach the basics, like where to make stops at stop signs, intersections and lights. He said they also cover topics like how to keep from being distracted while driving.

“The biggest thing we try to get across when it comes to that is just to drive the car, that’s the way to take care of distractions.” said Odom. “We try to tell them not to use their phones– especially texting.”

As part of Teen Driver Safety Week from October 18 to 24, AAA will have a driving simulator available for teens at their west Knoxville branch at 110 Capital Drive.

More online: More information and downloadable parent-teen driving agreement

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