Ark. teens speak out about teen driver fatalities

    8:27 PM, Oct 25, 2010   |    comments
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    William Seth Martin, 17, is like most teens. He loves to drive and of course his cell phone is close by. But he unlike many other teens tries to eliminate distractions. He uses head phones to talk.

    Martin explains, "That way, the phone just sits in my lap."

    He knows the importance. He's had two friends, both teens, die in car accidents.

    "As it relates to the physical hurt, pain and the emotional and psychological pain of it all, it's rough. It is just something that I have tried to endure," says Martin.

    It's a personal message Martin and other teens shared at the state Capitol Monday for National Teen Driving Safety Week.

    Nearly 1,000 teens died in Arkansas between 2000 and 2009. The death rate is twice the national average, with about one fatality every six days.

    Martin says, "Nothing is that important that it's worth your life. No text message, no boy, no girl that your texting is that important that is worth your life."

    Since last year, a graduated license law limiting teen passengers and late night driving went into effect. A seatbelt law and a cell phone ban for teens also went into effect.

    Arkansas Children's Hospital Dr. Mary Aitken believes those measures will help lower the death rate.

    Aitken says, "I think its going to take a couple of years for the full impact of the law to take focus. But we know that the overall death rate on our roads are dropping."

    But until the teen death rate drops, Martin will continue his mission. He's making a difference with his personal story that no text, no phone call, no distraction is worth death.

    He adds, "It is something that isn't needed it's completely unnecessary."

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