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Did you know that 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, yet 35% of them admit to still doing it anyway? That’s according to a recent AAA poll.

While those are nationwide numbers, the statistics in Tennessee aren’t any better.

On November 12, Nashville-based Monroe Carell. Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt announced that it was a recipient of a $100,000 grant; it will be used to assist in the hospital’s efforts to educate teenage drivers about safe driving with a particular emphasis on the dangers of texting and driving. This award comes after the hospital’s “Be in the Zone — Turn Off Your Phone” program reached more than 114,000 students since it took off in 2011.

Teenage and young adult drivers, due to their lack of road experience, have a high risk of making driving errors or careless decisions on the road. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. The fatality number is even higher in states that rank high in car crashes like Tennessee, which ranked ninth in the nation for number of crash fatalities in 2017.

A number of recent car crashes in Tennessee have further highlighted the risks associated with teenage drivers. One Tennessee teenager, 16-year-old Madison Hayes, was killed on Thanksgiving when she ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Investigators concluded that she may have survived if the shoulder restraint of her seatbelt had been on at the time of the crash. This comes just weeks after a nearly identical crash that killed 18-year old driver Samuel Keaton Smith, who veered off the road and struck a tree head-on. Both of the above incidents were single car crashes.

As of November 20, 914 people have died in traffic accidents in the state of Tennessee. Young drivers account for a disproportionate amount of those drivers, with over one in three crashes being caused by drivers under the age of 30.

Safety initiatives like “Be in the Zone — Turn Off Your Phone” aim to reduce this number, but it also up to us as individuals to follow road rules, avoid distractions while driving, and inform young drivers of the very serious risks associated with reckless driving.


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