5 On Your Side

Greater seat belt use can save teen lives

Posted August 28, 2012

Car crashes are the No. 1 reason some kids don't make it past their teenage years. In fact, more than 10 young drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 are killed in car crashes every day.

The latest crash in the Triangle saw four seniors from Raleigh's Broughton High School injured when the 17-year old driver ran off the road and lost control. Troopers have said driver Anne Crone wasn't drinking or texting, but her three passengers made a big mistake that could have caused their injuries -- they were not wearing seatbelts.

Studies show many teens don't buckle up. It is a factor in about 60 percent of teen deaths in car crashes, according to Consumer Reports.

Stephen Pisarz was buckled up when he died at the age of 18 when when his car skidded off an icy road.

"We'll never be the same," said Renee Pisarz. "To lose a child is the greatest loss."

Other obvious distractions like texting or talking on the phone are also common factors when teen drivers wreck their cars. And in an unbelievable 27 percent of deadly crashes, young drivers were drunk.

"The first year of driving is the riskiest. Actually, 16-year-olds are three times more likely to get in a crash than 18- or 19-year-olds," said Liza Barth of Consumer Reports. Teen drivers learn about braking hard 5 On Your Side: What is teen driver training really worth?

Barth said Consumer Reports has shown that traditional driver's ed is not enough to make teen drivers safe drivers. They recommend advanced training programs that teach teens how to handle emergency situations, like the course offered at the BMW Training Center in Greer, SC.

New technology can help, too.

"Ford's MyKey has some interesting features," Barth said. "A teen can't put the radio on until the seat belt is fastened. And also parents can set a top driving speed."

One of the most important ways to keep teen drivers safe is the choice of the vehicle itself.

"Parents tend to buy their teens older cars because they're less expensive, but they don't have the latest safety features and that can make all the difference," Barth said.

Consumer Reports says the best cars for teens have two key safety features: electronic stability control and side-curtain air bags.

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  • pappy1 Aug 30, 2012

    Gotta love folks who write headlines...