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Updated Recommendations on Teenage Driving Published

Recommendations encourage physicians to support safer driving and involve parents

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- To reduce motor vehicle accidents among teenagers, pediatricians should promote safer driving measures and encourage parents to be more involved, according to updated recommendations published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

The Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention and the Committee on Adolescence, the two groups that authored the policy statement, note that motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death for 16- to 20-year-olds, with 5,500 fatalities and 450,000 injuries per year. They also note that the risk factors for adolescents include inexperience, risk-taking, having teenage passengers, driving at night, use of alcohol/marijuana/medications, lack of seatbelt use, driving smaller and older cars, distractions such as the radio or cell phones, and being unlicensed.

The committees recommend that pediatricians should be familiar with laws affecting teenage drivers and the physician obligations to report medical conditions that could impair driving. Physicians should also know about and encourage the graduated-driver licensing system, encourage seatbelt use, discourage distractions while driving, and counsel teenagers on the risks of driving while impaired.

Pediatricians should also encourage parents to be involved by suggesting parent-teenager written contracts that place restrictions on driving, advising them to maintain the car in good condition, enlisting them to be positive role models, encouraging them to develop "safe-ride" agreements with their teenager, and advising them on driver education.

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