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ICU and morgue visits could improve teen drivers' risk awareness

Teen drivers, in Georgia as in other states, are especially prone to distracted driving and other forms of negligence behind the wheel, and it seems that traditional drivers' education does little to affect their awareness of the risks involved. However, a supplemental program called the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program provides interactive, reality-based instruction that has been shown to increase teens' risk awareness.

This is the conclusion of a Baylor University study, which analyzed 21 teen participants of the RED program. These participants took guided tours of a hospital's emergency rooms, intensive care unit and morgue and even had talks with health care staffers experienced in treating car crash victims. Added to these were more traditional videos, lectures and discussions.

The participants were enrolled by their parents or referred by a court, school administrator or community group as a part of disciplinary action for poor driving. Most admitted in a questionnaire that they engaged in calling and texting behind the wheel between 6 and 9 times in the previous 30 days.

After the program, teens demonstrated an increased awareness of the dangers of speeding and recognized the role of peer influence on drinking and driving. Researchers also found that parents were more likely to develop additional driving rules for their teens and discuss the consequences of breaking those rules.

Increased awareness and parental monitoring do not always translate to safer driving, however. When car accidents arise from one's negligence, the other party may be able to file a personal injury claim. Even those who are partially to blame can do so, but the amount they receive in damages will be lowered based on the degree of fault. A lawyer may be able to evaluate the claim and hire third parties to strengthen the case. Victims may choose to leave all negotiations to their lawyer.

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