Prom warning: Spring worst for unbelted teen deaths

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— April, May and June see the highest percentage of teenagers dying in crashes because they were wearing a seat belt.

The Eastern Pike Regional Police Department urges parents to reinforce safe driving habits during prom season and the end of the school year.

In 2011, 11,201 teenagers died in car crashes, with 943 of those crashes involving Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol.

“The prom and the end of the school year season is an exciting time for teenagers, but it also has proven to be a dangerous period on the road," said Chad Stewart, Chief of the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. "Contributing to the tragedies is a high percentage of teens that were not buckled up."

He said poor seat belt use, along with driver inexperience, texting, risk-taking and distractions, are the key factors that make traffic crashes’ the leading cause of death for teens, Stewart said.

"It's imperative that parents take the time to talk with their teens about the importance of seat belt use, reinforce teen driving laws, and set their own family driving rules," he said.

As of Dec. 27, 2011, for the first six months after receiving their junior driver’s license, a driver is not permitted to have more than one passenger under 18 who is not an immediate family member — brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or adopted or foster children living in the same household as the junior driver — in their vehicle unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

A teenaged driver who has not been convicted of a driving violation or who has been partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash after six months may have up to three passengers under 18 who are not immediate family members. If they have any convictions or are partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash while a junior driver, they are once again restricted to one passenger.

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