Study: Missouri is one of the worst states for teen drivers

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JEFFERSON CITY - A study showed Missouri is one of the worst states for teen drivers in the U.S. WalletHub conducted this study by analyzing the teen-driving environment in all 50 states with 16 main metrics including "the number of teen driver fatalities to the average cost of car repairs and the presence of impaired driving laws."

"Teen driving is a high emphasis for the Missouri Highway Patrol. Educating those young drivers, being safe and getting them to have good habits at very beginning is very important for us," Lieutenant Paul Reinsch, public information officer with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said.

Reinsch said highway patrol officers would visit high schools and driver's ed programs. He also addressed that educating parents is also quite important for teens. 

"They are the first teachers of those young drivers, we want them, parents, to model good driving behaviors for them," Reinsch said.

Tiffany Kaber, an 18-year-old who just graduated in May from high school, said teen driving is not very safe in Missouri from her perspective.

"We get distracted by our texting and phone calls, and radio, and friends in the car," Kaber said.

Reinsch said there are programs about graduated driver's licenses that parents can take to gain knowledge, which could not only educate parents, but young drivers. Kaber said she wished she had driver's education training before she became a driver.

"When I first started driving, I was distracted, very temped to be on my phone, and when I ride friends, I'd like to pay attention to them more. I get distracted very easily as it is," Kaber said. 

Sandra Kaber is Tiffany Kaber's mother; she thinks teens need to keep their phones away while driving. And she also encouraged teens to say no to drinking and driving or drugs and driving.

"They are not only hurting themselves, they are hurting their families, they are hurting their friends. Everyone that cares for them," Sandra Kaber said.

Reinsch said the three biggest reasons traffic accidents occur are inattention, driving while impaired and following too closely to another. For teens, texting and driving is the most important thing officers watch.

According to WalletHub, Missouri is the 6th worst state with a score of 38.01. New York, Oregon and Illinois are the safest states for 2016 with scores over 70, and South Dakota is the top of the worst list with a score of 23.44 for 2016.