Missouri parents: Encourage your teen to follow safe driving habits

As teenagers have now returned to high school and college, it is a good time to review safe driving habits with them, particularly as the weather worsens during the winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, auto accidents lead to the most fatalities among teenagers across the United States.

The danger is common among Missouri teens, as well. The Missouri Department of Transportation reported that 64 teenagers were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the state in 2012.

Missouri teen drivers should abide by all traffic laws and restrictions to prevent dangerous motor vehicle accidents.

Never drive while distracted

Despite the known dangers of distracted driving, many teenagers continue to engage in this risky behavior when on the road. According to a recent study conducted by King's College, four out of every five college students admit to texting while behind the wheel.

In Missouri, novice drivers - those under the age of 21 - are prohibited from sending or reading text messages while they are driving.

Nevertheless, over 40,000 motor vehicle accidents are caused by distracted drivers in Missouri each year. In response to these staggering statistics, Missouri officials have encouraged drivers to refrain from texting through the " It Can Wait" public awareness campaign. The campaign encourages motorists of all ages to agree not to text, email or use the Internet while driving.

Don't get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol

Teen drivers should also be reminded that they should never get behind the wheel if they have consumed any alcohol. In Missouri, a zero tolerance law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from driving after drinking any amount of alcohol.

Despite these restrictions, drunk driving is particularly common among teen drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one million high school students drove after consuming alcohol in 2011.

Always follow traffic laws, including buckling up behind the wheel

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, 81 percent of the teenagers killed in auto accidents in 2012 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. In fact, teenagers often fail to buckle up when on the road, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. The Coalition reported that just 66 percent of the teenagers in Missouri wear seat belts while on the road.

When a teenager causes an auto accident for any reason, those harmed in the crash may be entitled to receive compensation for the damage resulting from the collision. If you or a loved one is in such a situation, consider talking to a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your case.