National Teen Driving Safety Week: Program aims to improve ‘leading cause of teen death’

News13 Digital First

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week and the Southeastern Chapter of National Safety Council has partnered with State Farm and Carolina Forest High School to remind teen drivers of the consequences of distracted and impaired driving.

Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths, killing nearly 3,000 each year.

Students operated a “distracted simulator vehicle” that put their coordination skills to the test as if their vision was impaired from alcohol. Nine out of 10 times students looked down at a text message while driving, they crashed and saw consequences of losing control.

“It puts everything into perspective for them when they can actually do it themselves without the dangers,” Mark Nash, a State Farm representative, said.

One third of traffic crashes involving 15 to 24-year-olds involve a distraction, the most common being a cellphone.

However, texting is not the only concern. With a multitude of social media apps, the number of crashes is only rising as students take control of the wheel while on Snapchat, Instagram, or taking pictures.

Drinking and driving is another distraction Carolina Forest High School students experienced through foggy lenses while sitting in the driver’s seat.

“It just shows you that even though you think you know what you are doing, you really don’t,” student Liam Allen said.

Cell phones, alcohol… and the third? A lack of buckling up.

According to a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens, as both passengers and drivers, have the lowest rate of seat belt use of any age group.

“Out of all fatal collisions last year in South Carolina that involve 15 to 24-year-olds, 62 percent of them were unbelted,” Melissa Reck, Training and Development Coordinator of Southeastern Chapter of National Safety Council, said.

The SCNSC offers a teen defensive driving program that 140 South Carolina schools participate in and coordinators told News13 they hope Horry County joins in the future.

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