Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one killer of teenagers, and as we head into the summer months, even more teens are likely to be on the roads; 375 teens from 15 to 20 years old died on Florida roads in the year 2002. The numbers of girls involved in fatal crashes is climbing.
Sixteen-year-old driver Catherine Earb is a parent’s dream. She says she always buckles up.
"That's like one of my number-one rules whenever my friends get in, it's always like, seatbelts, and they're like, you're such a nerd, but I always wear my seatbelt," says Catherine.
But even safety-conscious Catherine admits she sometimes drives faster than she should. Nationwide, teen drivers have the highest crash risk of any driving age group, and tragically thousands don't survive.
Here's a statistic that might surprise you. Over the past ten years, deaths among teen boy drivers went up 15 percent, but deaths among teen girl drivers went up 42 percent.
Safety experts speculate more girls are crashing because they're driving more than they did ten years ago.
Florida has taken steps over the past ten years to toughen teen driving requirements. You must drive on a learner's license for a year before you can get an operator's license, and can only drive during certain hours unless you have a 21-year-old licensed driver in the passenger seat.
"Florida was one of the first states. In 1995, we went to the graduated license for young people, but there's no substitute for parental involvement," says Bob Sanchez of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
But efforts to legislate parental involvement failed this year, a bill that would have required parental notification any time your child was stopped by police died at the Capitol. Still, veteran driving instructor Adolph Hicks says parents need to be an on going part of their kids' driving experience.
"You just got to constantly drill them and tell them the right things and encourage them that this is the way to do things and don't give up, and pray," says Hicks.
More than 8,000 teens were killed in crashes in the U.S. the year 2002.
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