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Teen passenger education also needed in Connecticut

Much is said these days about the dangers of distracted driving among teenagers, but a single burst of driver education isn't enough. Connecticut already has laws that prohibit young, first-year drivers from having passengers who aren't family members, and young drivers have to graduate into their full driving privileges. But Connecticut crash statistics show that more needs to be done, particularly in the area of young passenger education.

According to data from 2008 through 2011, 61 teen drivers and passengers were killed in Connecticut, and about 6,000 passengers suffered injuries. These numbers suggest that more safety awareness needs to be spread among teenage motorists, so let's consider some things parents can do to help protect their kids from an injurious accident.

First, parents can monitor their children's driving and riding activities. Joy-riding often leads to accidents, so parents should try to limit their kids' driving and riding to purposeful destinations.

Also, if your child is expected to ride with another teen driver, then find out if the driver is experienced. Keep in mind that if a driver is 18 years old, it is possible to bypass Connecticut's graduated license program, and this can lead to inexperienced or negligent driving.

Parents should also remember that a single driver education course does not guarantee that a teenager is a skilled and careful driver. It's a good idea for parents to remain engaged in their kids' driving activities. Riding in the car with your child at night or during inclement weather could provide helpful teaching moments.

And finally, it is important that teenagers are aware of the dangers of texting and driving. Phone technology is pervasive in the U.S., but teen drivers and passengers are especially susceptible to distraction. It may be a good idea to let your child know that, while riding as a passenger, it's okay to ask the driver to stop texting.

We started this blog to discuss accident-related issues that matter to Connecticut residents. Check back here each week, as we'll be posting on topics related to our law practice.

Source: The Courant, "State Must Focus On Teen Passenger Safety, Too," Brendan T. Campbell, Garry Lapidus and Bill Seymour, Oct. 18, 2013

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