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Visiting hospital could help teens understand driving risks

Many New Mexico parents worry that their teens may not take the dangers of risky driving seriously enough. A new study shows that having teen drivers take a supplemental drivers' education program that includes visits to hospitals or morgues could help them better understand the consequences of their actions.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Baylor University, involved 21 teen drivers who attended the Texas Reality Education for Drivers, or RED, program. The participants were all referred to the program by a court, school or community group or enrolled by a parent. During the six-hour course, the teens were given lectures and videos that encouraged safe driving techniques. They were also taken to a hospital where nurses and other health care professionals explained their experiences with car crash victims.

Before completing the RED program, study participants completed a questionnaire about their risky driving habits over the previous 30 days. The most commonly reported risky behaviors included using a cellphone behind the wheel, driving on freeways and driving between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. The teens were also given a questionnaire that asked them to rate the perceived riskiness of specific driving behaviors, including speeding, texting or talking on a cellphone, drinking and driving, and riding in a vehicle operated by an impaired driver. After the course was completed, the teens had an increased understanding of the risks of certain behaviors, particularly speeding and peer influence on drinking and driving. However, a follow-up conducted two months after the program indicated that increased awareness does not necessarily lead to a change in driving behavior.

Teens who injure people in car accidents might be held responsible in court. An attorney may help an injured victim file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Visits to Intensive Care Unit and Morgue May Boost Teens' Driver Education," Sept. 6, 2018

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