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Focus on teen driving paying dividends in form of fewer accidents

In California and around the country, the drivers on our highways who are the most excited to be on the road are the ones who are often the most dangerous: young people. The accident rate for drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 is four times as high as the accident rate for drivers who are 20 years old or older. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers.

Keeping young drivers safe is a priority not just for the kids themselves but for all other drivers on the road. A teen's fatal car crash caused by inattention or inexperience can have untold tragic effects on many people. In the last two decades, states have been taking serious looks at how to increase teen drivers' safety and decrease the number of accidents.

One innovation that has had an enormous impact is graduated driver licensing, or GDL. Under these programs, which mandate a certain number of practice driving hours, restrict night driving, and limit the number of passengers a young driver may have, have gone a long way toward keeping kids safe and not driving by themselves until they're more ready to do so.

However, new styles of teaching and learning about driving are cutting fatality and accident rates even further. One unique program is taught by pro race car drivers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; kids are very receptive to learning from the race car drivers, and the opportunity to practice their craft at a legendary track is hard to not get excited about.

Source: USA Today, "Strategies aimed at reducing deaths among young motorists," Larry Copeland, March 15, 2012

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