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Keeping teen drivers safe

Every year, teenagers across New Jersey embark on the right of passage that is getting their driver's license. However, even those teens that ace driver's ed and pass the test on their first try are at a much greater risk of being involved in a crash than other drivers. In fact, according to AAA, teens are at at the highest risk of a crash in their first 12 to 18 months behind the wheel.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 16 and 20 in this country. The State of New Jersey reports that teens are the largest contingent of New Jersey drivers involved in crashes. A teen is involved in a crash every ten minutes in New Jersey. The leading causes of teen crashes are distracted driving, speeding, failure to yield and a general lack of experience.

Under the law, there are certain precautions in place to curb the risk of accidents involving teen drivers. New Jersey has a Graduated Driver License law and drivers who are 16 to 20 years of age hold a probationary license. While in possession of this probationary license, teens are restricted to driving during certain hours, such as to and from school, and are limited to one passenger in most cases. They are also specifically banned from using cell phones and other devices, even hands-free.

There are also steps that parents of teen drivers can take to help keep them safer on the road. AAA recommends setting up a system of check-ins, where the parent goes over the rules and gets information about where the teen is going before handing over the keys. This ensures that safety is fresh on the teen's mind before he or she gets behind the wheel.

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