National Teen Safety Week sends a strong message

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM

The Washington State Patrol is ramping up efforts to keep teens focused behind the wheel during National Teen Safety Week.

Crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

For most teens, focusing while driving means ditching the cell phone.

"Sometimes just the traffic stop alone can change behavior, and often times a verbal warning will go a long ways,” says Trooper Guy Gill.  

Another focus of Teen Safety Week is to encourage teens to use seat belts and cut down on underage drinking.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic found that nationally 9,578 drivers ages 16 and 17 were involved in fatal crashes. Almost 4,000 of these accidents also included at least one teen passenger. 

In Washington, 146 drivers ages 16 and 17 were involved in fatal crashes, and 69 of those included at least one teen passenger.

Stadium High School in Tacoma is just one school offering Driving 101 to help teens get the message. In the course, students are taught how to responsibly using the school's parking garage responsibly, and are encouraged not to drive while distracted.

“If I get a call I put it on speaker phone, if I need to. If it's an emergency I am not about the texting while driving,” says senior Andrew Foreman. “Those AT&T commercials really scared it out of me.”

National studies have shown that teens usually learn their bad driving skills from, you guessed it: their parents.

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