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Nashville teen drivers killed at alarming rates

Across the country, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers age 15 - 19. According to a new report released by the Center for Disease Control, teens in Nashville are in great danger of being involved in a serious or even fatal car accident.

Comparing traffic accident and fatality data from large cities across the country, the CDC report showed that Nashville ranks third in the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents involving teens. In fact, for every 100,000 teenagers living in the greater Nashville area, roughly 23 die in traffic-related accidents.

The high number of teen fatalities has lead many in the greater Nashville area to take action. Programs aimed to educate teens on safe driving practices have been started in many area schools. As a state, Tennessee has a graduated driver license program that also aims to help protect teen drivers. The program consists of three phases; learner permit, intermediate restricted license and intermediate unrestricted license.

Enacted in 2001, Tennessee's graduated driver license program places certain restrictions on young drivers until they are 18 years old. Despite the program and greater restrictions on teen drivers, young drivers in Nashville continue to die at alarming rates.

Contributing to the high teen death rate is lack of driver's education programs in some Tennessee and Nashville-area schools. Teens also don't follow guidelines outlined in the graduated driver license program such as restrictions on the number of teen passengers allowed in a teen-driven motor vehicle. Sadly, many also do not wear seat belts.

In an effort to combat the problem of motor vehicle-related teen deaths; parents, schools and law enforcement need to ban together. Additional funding for drivers education as well as parental involvement can go a long way in saving the lives of teen drivers.

Source: The Tennessean, "Nashville young traffic deaths 3rd highest in U.S.," Tom Wilemon, July 30, 2012

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