Jeffrey E. Johnston

Study looks at teen drivers' risk education program in Texas

Georgia residents with teenage children who are unsafe drivers may be looking into a drivers' risk education program. A Baylor University study shows that those programs with realistic, interactive elements are much more effective at making teens more aware of the dangers of certain driving behaviors. Researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program.

The RED program takes place over a single day at a hospital. It combines traditional elements like lectures and videos with more reality-based elements: most notably, a guided tour of the ICU, emergency rooms and a morgue as well as conversations with health care staffers who have dealt with car crash victims. Teens also engage in activities like developing a contract with their parents.

The study focused on 21 teen participants, most of them enrolled by their parents or referred by a court or school administrator for disciplinary action. The majority admitted to frequently calling or texting while driving. By the end of the program, they had greater risk awareness and recognized, in particular, the role of peer influence in risky behaviors like drunk driving.

A two-month follow-up survey claimed that there was no marked difference in actual driving behaviors, although it was limited to only six of the original participants. Researchers are calling for further studies that use control/comparison groups.

Teens, like any other drivers, are responsible at all times for maintaining control of their vehicle. If they cause an accident through negligence, the victims may have the grounds to file personal injury claims. Legal professionals may help injured individuals build up their cases against the defendants with proof like the police report, phone records and physical evidence found at the crash site. Attorneys could strive for fair settlements out of court as well as handle all the negotiations.

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