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Driving Classes Cut Teen Deaths

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dr. Bruce Hensel looks at a new study that finds that GDL programs help younger rather than older teens. (Published Wednesday, Sep 14, 2011)

    Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers.

    More than 23,000 teenage drivers and 14,000 of their passengers have been killed in car crashes in the last ten years.

    New driving programs, which enable teens to secure an Enhanced Driver's License, or EDL, are beneficial when it comes to keeping younger teens alive, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    “The idea is to let them get some experience under their belts before we expose them to the full risks of driving in the environment,” said Scott V. Masten, Ph.D., who authored the study and who works at the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

    Dzeneta Delic took the course, she said, because she felt it could help her gain better driving skills and reassure her parents.

    “It’s my top priority when I drive to stay safe," she said. "I started with my dad and he taught me like the rules and my mom let me drive her car and so that was a real big step."

    Masten and his colleagues looked at more than 130,000 crashes in which someone died when a teen was driving. They found that the courses made a big difference.

    “Graduated driver licensing programs are associated with saving lives among 16 year-old drivers," they concluded.