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Car crashes lead cause of death for teens, local SRO shares what he sees behind the wheel

The National Safety Council says the first year behind the wheel is already the most dangerous one for teens, and 16 to 19 year-old drivers are most likely to be in a deadly crash.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the US and CBS 2 talked to a school resource officer who sees the danger every day.

Distractions begin once the bell rings and students leave their class.

"Here at the school, I can walk out and watch the kids coming and I can see them texting and driving as they're leaving, especially after lunch when they've had two periods where they haven't had access to their phone so they have to catch up on all their social media," said local school resource officer Dave Gomez.

However, texting and driving isn't the only problem he sees.

"They leave here and they don't put their seatbelts on because it's not the cool thing to do," says Officer Gomez. "We can count on any given day 200 people leaving here without their seatbelts on. In particular, backseat kids, for whatever reason, think they're immune to the laws of physics if they're in the backseat."

The National Safety Council says half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school and much of that is due to inexperience behind the wheel.

Gomez says teens overestimate their abilities. "They think they're better," he says. "They can multitask better. They're a bigger danger because they don't have enough experience yet. They don't understand the consequences of their actions."

That's why Officer Gomez says it's important for parents to set a good example for their teen drivers.

"I'm fighting a losing battle if every adult they see is texting and driving so please set a good example as a parent and an adult."

Officer Gomez says to sit down and talk to your teens about the dangers they face.

"Sit down and talk to you teens about how important it is that they act like adults behind the wheel, right? They can still have fun in your life, but once you get behind the wheel, not only do you have your life in your hands, you have everybody else's life," says Gomez.

The National Safety Council says the first year behind the wheel is already the most dangerous one for teens, and 16 to 19 year-old drivers are most likely to be in a deadly crash.

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