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Realistic drivers' ed supplement improves teens' risk awareness

Researchers at Baylor University have analyzed the effect of a reality-based supplemental drivers' education program on teen participants, and the results may be of interest to parents of teen drivers in Virginia. The program is called the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program and is set over one day in a hospital.

There, participants talk with healthcare staffers with experience treating crash victims and even take a tour with a nurse through emergency rooms, an ICU and a morgue. This is followed by lectures, videos, discussions, and activities, such as developing a contract with parents and a safe driving plan.

The study involved 21 teens, most of whom were either enrolled by their parents or referred by a court or school administrator for disciplinary action. A questionnaire revealed that most of the participants had talked on the phone or texted behind the wheel between six and nine times in the past 30 days.

They were aware that drunk driving, speeding and neglecting the seatbelt are risky actions, but they did not count actions like listening to the radio or driving with another teen in the car as risky. However, by the end, teens' risk perception was heightened. Teens especially recognized the role of peer pressure on unsafe behaviors. In addition, parental monitoring increased after the RED program.

The researchers are aware that increased awareness of risky behavior does not always translate to safer driving. When negligence causes a motor vehicle accident, the other side could file a personal injury claim. Virginia operates under a pure contributory negligence rule, which means that if victims contribute even one percent to an accident, they cannot receive damages. This is why an accident victim might want to hire a lawyer. A lawyer might evaluate the case and take it on if it's strong, proceeding to negotiations with the auto insurance company.

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