A study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the State Farm Insurance Company is sending an urgent warning to teenage drivers and their families tonight, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007.
It seems the greatest hazard to teens isn’t alcohol or drugs but their passengers. Just last year the Kentucky General Assembly passed new legislation on teen drivers.
The new graduated license law requires teens to have a permit for 180 days before applying for an intermediate license. Also one of the big changes is a Kentucky teen is restricted to the number of passengers under the age of 20, allowed in their car.
“The message that teens have gotten is that drinking and driving are a problem but it’s so much more than that. Distractions are huge,” said Dr. Flaura Winston of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The vast majority of teens surveyed, recall riding with peers who are talking on cell phones or dancing and singing while at the wheel. Having other teens in the car can be a recipe for disaster and a study finds that a teen driving with one passenger doubles his or her risk of a fatal car crash. Any more passengers and the fatal crash risk is five times higher.
The study also coincides with a new ad campaign urging teens to beware but the message comes too late for the Arends. Their son Greg was killed when the car he was driving spun out of control.
“He had the world by the tail, you know but all that changed in an instant,” Greg's mother, Bonnie Arends said.
It’s up to states to enact laws to restrict teenage drivers and most have. This study may lead to even stricter regulations. Other changes, such as, Kentucky’s Graduated License Law requires teens to complete 60 hours of supervised training, including ten hours at night.
Plus, all drivers under the age of 21 are subject to “zero alcohol tolerance.” This is defined as point-zero-two blood alcohol concentration.
For more information on Kentucky’s Graduated License Law, click here.