• Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Michigan

The beach just got closer. The mall? Just five minutes away. And best of all, you don't have to ask mom or dad for a ride, you can play whatever music you want, and you don't have to take your little brother.

There aren't many thrills that are equal to the first time you "fly solo" with a full license and the freedom to go wherever you want. With wheels, you can see the world on your own terms.

But before you get behind the wheel, consider this:

• Nationally, two out of every five deaths among U.S. teens ages 16-19 are the result of a motor vehicle crash. In fact, four of every five accidental deaths for young people ages 15-24 were due to motor vehicle crashes.

• As a new driver, you're more likely to crash when you have other teens in your car with you. And for each teen passenger, your odds of a crash increase.

• If you're a female teenager who drinks and drives, you're 54 times more likely to be killed in a car accident than if you're sober. If you're a male, you're 18 times more likely to have a fatal accident.

Those statistics are pretty scary―and there are plenty more that show just how tough a time you'll have getting through the first couple of years without incident.

But there are ways to navigate through your "rookie years" safely.

Take a moment to consider the risks. Patience, as they say, is a virtue. And that's true even more so when you drive. Teens are more likely to run red lights, speed, and make illegal turns than older drivers.

Buck the trend. That red light only lasts 60 to 90 seconds―it won't make a big difference on how fast you get there. Neither will driving 10 mph over the speed limit on your five-mile trip to the mall.

Use your algebra skills to figure out how much time you'll save going 75 mph instead of 55 mph for five miles. Got it? About 90 seconds, right? Of course, you need to factor in the traffic stop, court time, how long you'll have to work to pay the fine, and how many hours more you'll need to work to pay your increased insurance costs if you get pulled over and ticketed for speeding.

Teens also have the lowest rate of safety belt use. In Michigan, that's a \$25 ticket―but you can pay as much as \$65 because of other fines and penalties that can be added to your citation. The federal government said that in 2004, 58 percent of the 5,135 teens killed in motor vehicle accidents weren't buckled up.

Wear your seat belt.

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