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Study: N.C. Teens Involved In Most Fatal Car Accidents In Nation

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RALEIGH, N.C. — According to the

National Safety Council

and a physician advocacy group, teen drivers in North Carolina have made the state No. 1 in fatal crashes involving teens.

"The No. 1 cause of the accidents and fatalities is speed," said Lt. Everett Clendenin, of the state Highway Patrol.

As a Triangle Driving School instructor, Gerry Cormier tries to steer teens onto the road of safety, but he said many have a set notion when it comes to driving.

"They don't care about the rules. They don't care about safety. It's just drive, drive, drive," he said.

Cormier said high school driving instructors are so backed up, many teens do not get the required six hours behind the wheel.

"I've heard firsthand from instructors, telling me that they did not give them full time behind the wheel," he said. "You have got to give them the driving."

Cormier said parents need to put the brakes on their teen's bad driving habits before he or she becomes another statistic.

The National Safety Council study also suggests ways in which parents can lay down the rules of the road, which includes limiting the number of passengers and the amount of nighttime driving. The state's graduated license program has those restrictions for drivers up to 18 years old.

According to the National Safety Council, North Carolina had 306 fatal accidents involving 16-year-old to 20-year-old drivers in 2003, which was 20 percent of all fatal accidents. North Carolina was second only to the District of Columbia for the number of fatal accidents involving teen drivers when the rate was adjusted for the number of teen drivers.

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