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Massachusetts working to reduce teen driver accidents

In 2012, Massachusetts families mourned the loss of 39 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20. This was a higher percentage of teen driver accidents -- at 11 percent -- than the 9.6 percent average for the nation. However, there are programs aimed at reducing the number of overall accidents for this age group.

In addition to a driver education program geared toward educating all drivers on the dangers of using a cell phone behind the wheel, there is another that goes beyond the traditional drivers' education classes. This particular class is modeled on a European course that focuses on defensive driving techniques. It also emphasizes skills all drivers could use in emergency situations.

Students are given opportunities to practice stopping while driving at highway speeds in the event they could find themselves in a similar real-life situation. Students who experience how the car responds in an emergency are better prepared, according to one instructor. Other approaches to reduce teen deaths include addressing speeding -- especially among male teens -- and the consistent use of safety restraints. Of the fatal accidents among teen males, 39 percent involved speeding.

The influence that parents have on their teens cannot be underestimated. When adults model proper driving habits on a daily basis, young drivers are more likely to follow their lead. However, while the overall death rate is coming down from previous years, teen driver accidents may always be a problem due to a lack of overall experience. Massachusetts families who have suffered a loss by way of a tragic accident -- whether the wreck involved a teen or otherwise -- are entitled to assess whether a wrongful death civil suit would be a viable option to seek redress for the monetary losses that inevitably follow in the aftermath of these fatal collisions.

Source: billerica.wickedlocal.com, "Teen drivers at greatest risk", Gerry Tuoti, Oct. 17, 2014

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