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Cantafio Hammond
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Summer is a dangerous time to be a teen driver

It's summer in Colorado and as residents continue to enjoy the warmer temperatures, a recently released study by the American Automobile Association serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that these 100 days of summer pose to teen drivers.

In fact, during the last five years from Memorial Day to Labor Day, more than 5,000 people have been killed in traffic accidents involving teen drivers and national statistics show that 60 percent of teen crashes involve distracted driving.

Top Three Distractions For Teen Drivers

1.) Other passengers - Other teen passengers were cited as causing or contributing to 15 percent of teen driver accidents.

2.) Cellphones - Texting or talking on a cellphone was determined to be a factor in 12 percent of teen driver crashes. With a reported 55 percent of teens sending an average of 80 text messages each day, teens who text and drive are 23 times more likely to cause or be involved in an accident.

3.) Other in-vehicle distractions - From tuning the radio to reaching for an item in the backseat, inside vehicle distractions that take a teen's eyes, attention and focus off of the road were cited in 11 percent of teen driver crashes.

In an effort to reduce the number of teen drivers who cause or are involved in car accidents, Colorado is among the states that have passed Graduated Driver Licensing laws for young drivers.

Colorado's Teen Driver Laws

1.) Passenger restrictions - In the 12 months after obtaining a driver's license, Colorado limits the number of non-relative passengers who are under the age of 21 that a teen driver is allowed to transport.

2.) Driving curfew - During the first 12 months after obtaining a driver's license, Colorado teens under the age of 21 are restricted from driving without a parent or instructor from the hours of 12 midnight to five a.m.

3.) Cellphone bans - With the exception of emergency calls, teen drivers under age 18 are not allowed to use a cellphone while driving. Additionally, all drivers are banned from texting on a cellphone while driving.

While the restrictions associated with Colorado's GDL laws help reduce the risks that teen drivers will cause or be involved in traffic accidents, parents play a vital role in promoting safe driving habits.

Steps Parents Can Take To Keep Teen Drivers Safe

1.) Communicate - Parents are encouraged to have honest and frequent conversations with their teen drivers about the dangers and consequences of distracted, drunk, aggressive and drowsy driving.

2.) Be a role model - When it comes to promoting safe driving behaviors, parents must practice what they preach and abstain from engaging in unsafe driving behaviors.

3.) Respect and enforce GDL laws - Parents are advised to not only help ensure that a teen driver is following GDL restrictions, but to also establish other rules to keep teen drivers safe.

While much attention is and should be paid to keeping teen drivers and passengers safe, according to national statistics, almost 75 percent of the people who are injured or killed in accidents involving teen drivers are not teens. It is, therefore, in all of our best interests to model good driving behaviors, support GDL laws and do everything we can to help today's teen drivers learn and develop the skills they need to be safe drivers for life.

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