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3 teen driving behaviors parents in Oklahoma should address

Transporting passengers, using a cellphone and drinking alcohol all pose a threat to teenage drivers in Oklahoma.

It may be terrifying for a parent to hear that the most common cause of death among teenagers in Oklahoma and across the country is a car accident. Unfortunately, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out, approximately six people between the ages of 16 and 19 fall victim to a fatal crash every day.

While the exact causes of these accidents may differ, there are several well-known and researched factors that can lead to a tragedy. Parents should discuss the following with their teen drivers:

1. Distractions

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that teenage drivers are especially susceptible to getting distracted behind the wheel. In fact, of the crashes researchers analyzed, 58 percent involved some kind of distracting behavior.

Using a cellphone, eating, grooming and changing the radio are all considered a distraction because each takes the driver's hands, eyes or mental focus off the road, or even all three. Parents should talk about the dangers of these behaviors with their teens and encourage safe driving habits.

2. Passengers

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety reports that drivers who hold a learner's permit or intermediate license are restricted when it comes to passengers - and for good reason. Having other people in the car, especially other young people, can serve as a substantial distraction to the driver.

Aside from the state's laws, parents may want to create rules for their teens regarding how many people they may transport or which people are allowed to ride with the young driver. This enables the driver to learn how to navigate the roads safely, gaining valuable experience before adding more people to the vehicle.

3. Drinking

Teenagers face an onslaught of peer pressure for a variety of items, one of which is drinking and driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 29 percent of young drivers who were killed in a car accident had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.01 - far below the legal limit for drivers 21 and older, which is set at 0.08.

Experts suggest that parents create an agreement with young drivers concerning drinking and driving. A "no questions asked" policy, for example, would enable a teenager to call his or her parent for a ride instead of getting into a car with a drunk driver.

Teenagers who are just learning to drive must understand the threats each of these factors present in addition to getting valuable driving experience. Combining the two can help parents rest assured that the driver is prepared for the road. Anyone who has concerns about this issue should consult with a personal injury attorney in Oklahoma.