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Teaching the Dangers of Distracted Driving, Before It's Too Late

This is the VOA Special English Education Report, from | Car crashes are the top killer of American teenagers. Most of the crashes result from distracted driving -- not paying attention to the road.Ryan Didone was a fifteen-year-old passenger in a car that hit a tree. He was one of the nation's more than thirty thousand victims of traffic crashes in two thousand eight. Nearly four thousand deaths, about twelve percent, involved drivers age fifteen to twenty. Ryan's father, Thomas Didone, is a police captain in Montgomery County, Maryland. He said the driver of the car was inexperienced and was driving at night with a carload of kids. He was going too fast and caused one death and some serious tragedy for the rest of the community.Jim Jennings from the Allstate Insurance Company says the number one cause of distracted-driving accidents is the mobile phone. He says talking on the phone or reaching for it is like drinking four beers and driving. He said if you are texting while driving, you are twenty-three times more likely to get into an accident than somebody who is not. If you reach for a cell phone when it is ringing, you are nine times more likely to get into an accident. Government and private groups are using public service announcements and events to bring more attention to the problem. For example, the insurance industry recently held a safety event near Washington for teen drivers. At first, nineteen-year-old Kevin Schumann easily avoided large, inflatable dolls thrown in front of the car to represent children. He also avoided orange cones representing the edge of the road. Then, as part of the test, he started texting. He hit several cones and at least one doll.Debbie Pickford of Allstate Insurance says teens are especially at risk from distracted driving -- and not just because they lack experience on the roads. She said teens do not really have fully developed brains until they are twenty-five years old. New legislation in Congress proposes to require all states to have a graduated driver licensing system. Graduated means teenagers start with restrictions on night driving and numbers of passengers. They could not get a full driver's license until age eighteen. Thomas Didone shares the story of his son's death to help educate teens and their families about distracted driving. And that's the VOA Special English Education Report. You can watch a video of this report at (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 01Jul2010)
Length: 04:00


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