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Visits to ICU may benefit teen drivers' ed programs

Distracted driving, especially among teens, is as much of a problem in Georgia as it is in other states. One study conducted by Baylor University shows that traditional drivers' education may not be enough to keep teens from engaging in dangerous activities behind the wheel. Researchers focused on an interactive, reality-based supplemental program called the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program and its effect on 21 teen participants.

Most of these participants were either enrolled by their parents or referred by a court or school administrator for disciplinary action. Their poor driving was reflected in the fact, revealed in their answers to a pre-program questionnaire, that they frequently called and/or texted while behind the wheel.

The one-day, six-hour RED program is set in a hospital and consists of lectures, videos, discussions and activities. The most substantial part of the program, though, involves talks with health care staffers who have dealt with crash victims and guided tours through the hospital's emergency rooms, ICU and morgue.

At the end, researchers found that the greatest changes were an increased realization of the danger of speeding and of the role that peer influence plays in drinking and driving. In general, the participants became more aware of risky driving behavior and more capable of good decision-making. The study also found that parental monitoring increased after the RED program.

In the U.S., car accidents are to blame for a third of all accidental deaths among teens. In cases where the teens cause the accident and injure someone else, the other side may be able to file a personal injury claim. This means negotiating with the defendant's auto insurance company for a settlement out of court or, if negotiations fail, litigating. Victims are advised, then, to retain legal counsel in order to obtain an appropriate amount of compensation for their losses.

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