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The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies revealed that the impact of teen driver crashes expands beyond teen drivers' families and friends. In 2008, more than half a million people were involved in auto related crashes where a teen driver was behind the wheel. In those crashes, more than 40,000 were injured, and nearly 30 percent of those who died in the crashes were not in cars driven by teens.

This first annual report from State Farm Insurance and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) uncovered credible data from diverse federal data sources, and in doing so, established 11 indicators to help policymakers and safety practitioners determine progress in those key areas which affect teen driving safety. This report is the first to compile this information into a single resource, making it easily accessible and beneficial to those who are ultimately responsible for setting policy, training, and curriculum standards.

Among teen drivers, researchers have been able to detail four key behaviors that contribute to crashes or crash fatalities, which can be tracked using federal data sources.

Those 4 behaviors are:

* Failure to use seat belts
* Speeding
* Alcohol use
* Distracted driving

The report also indicates more teens die from car crashes than from cancer, suicide, and homicide combined, and that teen driver and teen passenger deaths account for 24 percent of total teen deaths from any cause. The authors of the report also acknowledge that teen fatalities are merely "the tip of the iceberg," since thousands more - which also include friends, family members and others sharing the road - suffer physical injuries, psychological trauma, and disruption to their everyday lives.

It's important to know that research shows most of these tragedies are due to inexperience, so are indeed preventable. To reduce the number of deaths and injuries, the study recommends stronger Graduated Driver Licensing laws, which allow teens to gain more experience under lower-risk driving conditions. The study also recommends other traffic safety laws that focus on key teen behaviors which are known to raise crash risk, such as speeding, distractions from cell phones and friends, alcohol use, and failure to wear seat belts.


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