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No-brainer advice can save teen lives

Tuesday, October 21, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Here’s a simple message I’d like every young driver to remember. It’s something that even the most independent teenager can agree with, even when the message comes from an adult.
   Buckle up.
   Oh, that? Again? Seriously?
Yes. Here’s why.
   It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week, and you’ll find stories everywhere on how parents can help their kids avoid harm on the road. The top tips urge choices like, “No cell phones or texting while driving.” “No speeding.” “No extra passengers.” “No alcohol.”
   Very predictable. And though most of us can agree that’s all sound advice, I suspect there are some teen drivers who will ignore those tips simply because they want to do those things.
   But driving a car without a seat belt? That seems preposterous. Does anyone truly, knowlingly, invite danger that blatantly?
   Yes, especially teens. Why? Beats me.
   Yet there it is, No. 5 on the teen “Safety Rules of the Road” from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s because 60% of all 15- to 20-year-old passengers killed in 2012 crashes were unrestrained, according to NHTSA.
   Locally, 14% of young male drivers in Washington said in a 2014 survey it’s “very unlikely” they’d get ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Perhaps they’re just not aware of the danger.
   So again, my simple message is, “buckle up.” It’s such a no-brainer that I’m willing to bet teens will shame each other into doing it, once they realize how many of their peers are risking their lives, and dying, from failing to use seat belts.
   Buckle up.

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