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Drugged, distracted and drowsy driving should concern teens too

Teens are just as liable as adults to engage in what one National Safety Council representative calls the Three D's: drugged, distracted and drowsy driving. In New Jersey and across the U.S., 3.6 million teens will be graduating from high school, which means graduation parties and more inexperienced drivers on the road.

Many high school students are no stranger to alcohol and drugs, both prescription drugs and illegal ones, and even those who do not partake of them likely know someone who does. Part of being a friend means offering a ride to those who become impaired by drugs or alcohol. Teens must not drive after taking any amount of these substances.

One important tip that parents should pass down to their children is to not only be a good driver but also to be a good passenger. Young drivers quadruple their risk for a crash when a friend is in the car, so being a good passenger means avoiding disruptions and doing things like answering text messages and finding the right radio station in the driver's stead.

In addition, teens should understand the danger of drowsy driving. Drowsiness is hard to detect but can induce four-to-five-second bursts of inattention called microsleep.

The Three D's are all examples of negligent driving. Whether or not teens face criminal charges, their auto insurance company may face a personal injury claim. With New Jersey being a no-fault state, only a motor vehicle crash that leads to permanent injuries or disabilities can form the basis for a third-party insurance claim, so victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case before making any decisions. The lawyer might hire investigators to obtain proof of the defendant's negligence, like phone records or toxicology reports.

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