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Drivers' ed supplements and how they affect teen behavior

Tennessee residents with teenage children who have just learned to drive may be interested to know about a certain Baylor University study. Researchers focused on the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program, a supplemental drivers' education program, and its effect on teens' risk awareness and driving behavior.

Twenty-one teens participated in the program, some of them because a school administrator or court referred them to it for disciplinary action. The majority said in a questionnaire that they had called or texted behind the wheel between six and nine times in the previous 30 days.

They then went through the one-day, six-hour program, which is set in a hospital and includes talks with health care staffers who have dealt with crash victims as well as guided tours through the ICU and the morgue. The RED program also includes lectures, videos, discussions and activities. One activity had teens develop contracts with their parents as well as safe driving plans.

Researchers found that interactive, reality-based education, such as what the RED program offers, can increase teens' awareness of dangerous driving habits, help teens improve their decision-making abilities and better able to negotiate peer influence. The 21 participants came out recognizing the role of peer pressure in drinking and driving, for instance. Parental monitoring also increased after teens participated in the RED program.

Ultimately, though, it is up to teens to make the right decisions so that they can avoid motor vehicle accidents. If distracted driving or another form of negligence contributes to a crash, victims may be able to file a claim against that driver's auto insurance company. If the amount offered is not sufficient, an attorney might advise the filing of a lawsuit.

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