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State Leaders Make Push to Curb Distracted Driving

The number of accidents caused by distracted drivers is on the rise.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) State leaders are pushing to provide more education for teenagers.

Most of us are guilty driving distracted at some point.

Whether it's eating, putting on make-up or texting, the consequences can be deadly.

A new study finds teens are even more likely to be distracted behind the wheel.

"It's worrisome and so what we need to do is we need to educate kids on their risks. We should let them know what the possible risks and outcomes are in engaging in these seemingly simple or non-threatening behaviors in the car because they are real risks," says Dr. Kate Eshleman with the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

The Department of Motor Vehicles found that in 2008 nearly 200 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed in a car accident.

Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found teen drivers were eight times more likely to crash when distracted by phones.

Experts say teens are four times more likely to crash when texting and three times more likely when eating.

Missouri legislators say they are working on ways to educate young drivers since car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.

In fact, more teens die in car crashes nationwide than from suicides and homicides combined.

Of those accidents nearly eighty percent were not wearing seat belts

"It's so important that people wear their seat belts. It reduces their risk of being ejected from the car and dying and it's way more important than anything else they can do," says Missouri Senator Robert Schaaf.

Researchers say programs are needed to restrict electronic device usage behind the wheel.

They also encourage parents to practice what they preach and set a good example.

"Educating kids about the risks, modeling good behaviors and making sure as parents we are in our cars using two hands on the wheel and focus as well as limiting kids access to these things while they're driving," adds Eshleman.

State leaders say in Missouri alone, 600 out of 800 fatalities could have been prevented if they were wearing a seat belt.
  
They hope new programs will encourage young drivers to drive more cautiously.

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