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Does your novice teen driver really need anything to focus on besides traffic and the road conditions? Of course not. 

Drive Alive research shows that a vast majority of teen drivers surveyed regularly talk on a cell phone while driving. That should put a scare into all of us. The risk of having a traffic accident while using a cell phone is the same as that while driving drunk, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers found that cell phone users are four times more likely to get into traffic accidents than those who do not use them.

Nationally, the number of teens and young adults talking on a cell phone while driving is alarmingly high, according to government research released in 2011. The research identified the percentage of teen drivers AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT that were driving while talking on a cell phone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey found that hand-held cell phone use among drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 was 7 percent at any given moment. Among all ages, at any given moment in the United States last year, an estimated 5 percent of all motorists, or about 660,000 drivers, were talking on cell phones while behind the wheel, the survey found. 

Frankly, it's dangerous for drivers of any age to drive while talking on a phone. And studies have shown that hands-free phones are no safer - the danger is the fact that the driver's mind is elsewhere. But what's bad for adults is horrible for novice, inexperienced teenage drivers.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that novice drivers be prohibited from using cell phones while behind the wheel. Good idea. 

Remind your young driver of Indiana's law prohibiting use of cell phones No use of the cell phone unless the car is parked safely in a parking lot. Is that too much to ask of your teen if it can help keep him or her alive? You decide.