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Study looks at influence of reality-based programs on safety

Motor vehicle accidents are the top cause of accidental death among teens, but teenagers in New York might be safer drivers if they take a supplemental driving program that exposes them to the dangers of certain behaviors. Researchers at Baylor University in Texas examined how the attitudes of teen drivers toward safety changed after they participated in a six-hour program that included visits to a morgue, intensive care unit and emergency room.

There were 21 participants in the program, which included lectures, discussions, videos and more. Participants completed surveys at the beginning and end of the program about risky driving behavior. At the end of the program, they had a better awareness of the dangers of speeding and how much their peers can influence their likelihood of drinking and driving. However, only six participants filled out the follow-up survey two months later. The four who drove during that time all said they had texted and talked on the phone while driving. Two admitted to speeding. As a result, researchers deemed the follow-up inconclusive.

However, researchers did say that the findings showed that such reality-based programs were a good idea because, in addition to raising awareness, they teach teens to make better decisions and understand the influence of peers better. Researchers recommended more interactive elements and follow-up programs to reinforce information about these dangers.

Even nonfatal accidents can result in catastrophic injuries. If a person is in an accident that is caused by another driver who was speeding, driving under the influence, texting and driving or engaging in another dangerous activity, that driver may be responsible for the medical expenses of the injured person. This compensation may be paid by the insurance company, but if the driver is uninsured, or the compensation offered is too low, a lawsuit may be the next step.

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