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A new booklet produced by the Utah Department of Health ought to be mandatory reading for every teenager who is beginning to drive. The teen's parent or guardian should also be required to read along.
"Thirteen Stories We'd Rather Not Tell" gets right to the point. New teenage drivers are involved in a disproportionate number of wrecks and many of them die. Consider this staggering fact: "On average, motor vehicle crashes account for 40 deaths, 330 hospitalizations, and 5,400 emergency department visits a year for Utah residents ages 15-19 years."
The new booklet graphically tells the stories of 13 teens killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2008.
Xander Jordan lost control of his car while texting.
Erica Trudy Knell overcorrected her car and crashed.
Travis Lindsay wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was ejected when his car crashed.
Positive steps have been taken in Utah in recent years to better prepare teen drivers. Significant improvements include implementation of a graduated driver license and more required supervised driving. However, teens still cause more than three times as many crashes as the average driver.
The new booklet is very personal and tragically poignant. Unfortunately, not all will heed its lessons. However, those who do may be spared a similar deadly outcome.