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Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop H Sgt. Jake Angle speaks during an interview this week. Angle sometimes helps St. Joseph Safety Council with portions of its annual driver’s education courses.

Missouri is among the states with the riskiest teen drivers, according to a new report.

The state has the 12th-riskiest teen drivers, according to CoPilotSearch.com, a car-buying service. The number of teens killed nationwide in vehicle accidents dropped more than 50% from 2005 to 2019, but there still were more than 2,300 incidents in 2019.

A lack of experience can be one of the biggest liabilities for young drivers, said Sgt. Jake Angle of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop H.

“Until they get out there and actually do that, that activity, that’s when they really learn,” he said. “But there also, there has to be instruction, but I think there has to be experience, too, and that’s why I think it’s critical people are always aware when they’re out there on the roadway. Those new drivers are out there and not everybody is that person that’s been driving for 20 years.”

The amount of technology available in vehicles is helpful, but too much is a detriment if drivers always rely on those resources, Angle said.

“Younger drivers especially can become dependent on that,” he said. “You know, instead of learning those skills like making sure they look over their shoulder when they change lanes, glimpse at that lane. They’re dependent on, maybe become too dependent on, the technology.”

Technology also can be a distraction. Just over 45% of Missouri teens text and drive, according to the Co-Pilot report.

The number of things that can go wrong proves the need for a resource like driver’s education, Angle said.

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of kids, a lot of parents out there that get in the car with their kids and they’re teaching them those good fundamentals, too,” he said. “But when you have a program like that, that’s dedicated strictly to educating young drivers, I think it certainly can’t hurt.”

The report also estimated that 8.5% of Missouri teens don’t wear a seat belt while driving.

Alexander Simone can be reached at alex.simone@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter at @np_simone.

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