Video: Teens behind the wheel

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/30/2007 5:53:32 PM ET 2007-01-30T22:53:32

Steve Arends knows these rural roads like few others, but there's one spot he has trouble with every day.

There's nothing distinguishing about it, but when Steve drives past, he sees it all over again: a speeding car slamming into a power pole, killing the driver beside him — his 17-year-old twin brother.

Steve spent six months in a low-grade coma. A careless moment four years ago, and a family forever scarred.

"There are times I'll reach for four sets of utensils instead of three," says Steve's mother, Bonnie. "It still affects every day."

Many parents know that for teens, the inside of a moving car has always been one of the most dangerous places to be. Alcohol-related accidents among teens are down. Even so, the death toll hasn't budged. Now, a new study tells us why. Phones and friends are driving teens to distraction. Eighty-nine percent talk on cell phones while driving, and 94 percent are distracted while driving, according to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance.

A just-launched campaign encourages teens to put the brakes on the party in the car. And states are stepping in — more than 40 now have special teen driver’s licenses, limiting when and with whom they drive.

"There's an epidemic out there," says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. "We have to do more."

But it comes too late for a broken family cruelly reminded of their loss every day.

"It still marks a place that life for us as a family changed," says Bonnie Arends. "And forever changed us."

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