Safe driving discussion for parents and teens

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When Texas teenagers approach driving age, parents worry. Talking to teens about driving safety today can involve many topics, including what the National Safety Council's senior director of public relations calls the dangerous Ds: drugged, distracted and drowsy driving.

Most high schools in the country have some students who use drugs or alcohol, and that does include prescription drugs. Even if a teen doesn't use any drugs or drink alcohol, he or she might have friends who do. NSC says parents should remind their teenagers that riding with a drunk or drugged driver is as dangerous as being a drunk or drugged driver.

Distracted driving is a big problem in this cell phone era, but it's not just phones that cause distractions and the potential for car accidents. Passengers can be a distraction for drivers, and this is a particular problem for younger people. Parents might want to caution their teens, even ones who aren't driving yet, that they should be good passengers. That means not doing anything to distract the driver of any vehicle in which they are riding.

The final 'D" on the dangerous list is drowsy driving. A person can fall asleep while behind the wheel even for a few seconds and put everyone in the vehicle, as well as others, in great danger. Teens often have busy lives, and not getting enough sleep each night can lead to dangerous drowsiness.

Driving while intoxicated carries stiff penalties and could also result in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if a drunk driver causes a car accident that injures or kills another person. Criminal and civil charges against a suspected drunk driver are entirely separate. Even if drunk driving charges are dismissed, the driver could still be found negligent in a civil case.

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