THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Week: 556.1 Guest: Luciano Phebo, Spokeswoman, CDC/Nat'l Center for Injury Prevention Topic: New statistics on teen driving fatalities Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: The good and bad news on teen driving...coming up...

SPOT: NEMA...the National Emergency Medicine Association... fights our worst health enemies - heart disease, stroke, trauma. Call 800-332-6362.

NEMA: Some changes and limits in how we handle teenage drivers seems to have paid off with a big drop in fatal auto crashes involving teen drivers between 1988 and 1995. Luciana Phebo is from the Center for Injury Prevention at the CDC...

PHEBO: The rate of young drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes dropped 20% over that period of time. But it's still the leading cause of death for those 15 to 20 years old.

NEMA: Although adolescents drive less, they are involved in relatively more fatal crashes than any other age group. Why?

PHEBO: First one's the lack of experience, and the other is risky behavior. Novice drivers are less proficient to respond to hazards...they are also less proficient to control vehicles or to make judgments or decisions, especially during an emergency.

NEMA: One of the big changes since 1988 partly responsible for the drop in fatal crashes was that we implemented a national drinking age of 21...and you like the graduated driver's program...

PHEBO: This graduated driver's license system is a public health intervention, that enables young drivers to acquire driving experience in a low risk setting, and expose the young drivers, incrementally, to more challenging driving experiences.

NEMA: Right now, only 15 states have the graduated license system in place. I'm Steve Girard for the Heart of the Matter.