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Teen drivers may need more than high school driver's ed

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in California and around the country between the ages of 15 and 18. More than 100,000 young people are killed or injured on the nation's roads each year, and many road safety advocates expect this grim figure to rise still further in the years ahead as mobile technology grows ever more pervasive. Most American teens attend driver's education classes in high school, but the way their parents behave behind the wheel often contradicts what they are taught in the classroom.

Researchers have long known that the children of parents with bad habits often develop those same habits themselves. This can lead to tragedy when the bad habits include using cellphones while driving, exceeding posted speed limits and becoming enraged by other road users. Parents who wish to provide their children with more appropriate examples now have options available as intensive teen driving skills classes are offered in many parts of the country. These classes are designed to give young drivers real-world skills that driver's education classes may not provide.

During these sessions, which usually last for one day and cost about $100, teens are taught how to handle their vehicles in inclement weather and during emergency situations. Instructors also discuss the benefits of defensive driving skills and anticipating the actions of other road users. Participants, who must have at least 25 hours of driving experience, typically bring their own vehicles to the sessions and practice emergency maneuvers on a closed course.

Parents who have a lax attitude toward road safety might be held responsible in civil court when their recklessness leads to car accidents and injuries. This is because parents in California assume legal responsibility when they allow children under the age of 18 to get behind the wheel.

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