Teens, pedestrians should take special care when traveling

Thursday, October 18, 2012

School children of all ages are settling into the daily routine of gathering up their homework and getting to school, but Mother Nature is bound to break that routine any day by sending ice, snow and other challenging weather their way.

Combined the age-old distractions of being a teenager with modern electronic distractions of smart phones and music players, and it's a miracle there aren't more accidents on a daily basis.

Actually, there is plenty of tragedy to go around. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 4,500 teens were involved in fatal crashes across the nation in 2010, 18 teens killed in Nebraska crashes alone.

Driver inexperience, speed and alcohol and those aforementioned distractions are just some of the many factors that contribute to fatal crashes. Drivers under 20 years of age represent the largest proportion of distracted drivers on the road. Of the fatal crashes involving young drivers, 11 percent involved driver distraction.

As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, Attorney General Jon Bruning urged parents to talk to their teens about safe driving, noting that motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death in older teens. "It's imperative they understand the rules of the road are about more than tickets and penalties -- roadway laws are about life and death."

But it's not just teenagers, and not just drivers who need to be careful.

According to AAA Nebraska, 14 pedestrian deaths were reported in Nebraska this year, up 250 percent from last year and at a level not seen since 2000.

Drivers and pedestrians need to observe many of the same safety precautions -- such avoiding the use of cell phones and music players while traveling.

In addition, the AAA notes, when crossing at intersections with traffic lights, always look for turning vehicles, especially those turning right on a red light.

Wear bright colored clothing when walking at night, and be cautious when walking if the sun is setting or rising behind you or in front of you, which may obscure a driver's vision.

If you've been drinking, call a cab or ask a friend to take you home.

Observe speed limits around schools and in neighborhoods where children may be present.

This is good advice all year round, but especially as the Halloween holiday approaches.

For more on safe teen driving, visit www.ago.ne.gov, www.IKnowEverything.com or www.centurycouncil. org/other/initiatives/teendrivers.

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