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Teens tell their peers 'don't drive stupid'


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SALT LAKE CITY— A number of teens said they hope safe driving will become part of their peers' routine as students get back into the swing of things for the new school year.

One-tenth of those killed on Utah roads last year were teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. That is too many for some students, who used their creative talents to send a strong message: "don't drive stupid."

One student-made video earned a $500 prize last year in the "Don't Drive Stupid" video and calendar contest. The contest is a way for teens to impact their peers and see their work played at Megaplex Theatres between movies.

"I think teenagers, and adults even, they just don't realize that your life can be lost in one second if you just make the wrong decision, or if you're looking down at your cell phone," said high school senior Hannah Mathison.

Mathison entered a poster that emphasizes zero alcohol tolerance for teens last year. More than 300 students entered.

"Any way that teens can talk to teens and get that message out, it's definitely a positive," said Stacy Johnson of Zero Fatalities.

In 2012, 21 teens died on Utah roads. Those numbers decreased from 41 teen fatalities five years earlier and 23 fatalities in 2011.

Three out of four of those teens killed were not wearing a seatbelt or wore it improperly; teens have the lowest seat belt use of any age group.

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"Teen drivers actually make a small portion of Utah drivers, however, they are involved in almost a quarter of all the crashes," Johnson said.

On the plus side, since Utah's graduated driver licensing laws went into effect in 1999, there has been a 62 percent decrease in the rate of teens ages 15-17 killed in crashes.

"Parents need to make sure they implement these new laws to these new drivers, because they are protecting teens," Johnson said.

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Jed Boal

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