The following is an editorial from WBRC FOX6 News General Manager Collin Gaston, which first aired on Thursday, May 11, 2017:
According to a recent carinsurance.com study, Alabama has risen to the fifth most dangerous state for teenage drivers.
Car accidents are the No. 1 cause of teenage deaths. The reasons for this include texting and driving, talking on the cell phone, drinking, distractions from too many passengers and speeding. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey reports that Alabama and Montana have the highest percentage rate of teens drinking while driving. In the same survey, Alabama has the ninth highest percentage of teens who text while driving.
All states have Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs designed to prepare teens to become better drivers. These include three stages: Beginning stage -- supervised driving, culminating with a driving test; Intermediate Stage -- limiting unsupervised driving in high-risk situations; and Full Privilege Stage: a standard driver's license.
Alabama's GDL is far from the strongest. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, if Alabama matched the toughest GDL requirements in the nation (permit age, practice driving hours, license age, night driving and passenger restrictions) it could reduce fatal crashes involving teen drivers by 45 percent.
States with stricter GDL programs have much lower death rates among their teen drivers. Our state should re-examine and expand ours.
As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure our children are aware of the consequences of distracted driving and driving under the influence. How many more kids have to die before this is done, leaving their parents to wrestle with the question: "If only I had done more?"
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