More than half of all teenagers killed in auto accidents were not wearing seat belts

– Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune..

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Auto accidents kill more U.S. teenagers than any other cause, and summer is known as the “100 deadliest days for teen drivers,” according to the National Safety Council (NSC). 

The main culprit for the fatalities is not texting and driving. It’s an older problem: Not wearing seatbelts.

More than half of the 2,439 teens killed in auto accidents in 2012 were not wearing seatbelts, according to a new report called “Teens in Cars” compiled by Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children.

The results match similar findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Safety Council.

The General Motors-sponsored report surveyed 1,000 teens aged 13 to 19 to explore why teens aren’t wearing seatbelts and to “understand their perceptions about their own safety when riding as passengers.”

Passengers accounted for 44 percent of the fatalities. One in four teens said they don’t wear seatbelts when driving with a teen, and the number one reason was they forgot, or it’s not habit.

“Teens have an invincibility complex as not part of a fully developed brain,” says Kathy Bernstein, Senior Director of Teen Driving Initiative for the National Safety Council (NSC). The latest scientific thought suggests the brain isn’t fully developed until 25 years old.

Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death for front seat passengers by 45 percent, according to the “Teens in Cars” study. And while the number of teen traffic fatalities has dropped 56 percent from a peak of 5,491 in 2002, the percentage of fatalities from not wearing seatbelts has remained the same.

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