By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Once a right of passage for teen drivers, driver’s education programs have been cut from many schools and are less available than in decades past. But a new AAA study says teens that skip drivers ed are likely to have more crashes and more traffic convictions.

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“There really is a difference when teens take driver education,” says Jenny Robinson, a spokesperson with AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Driver education reduces crashes by 4.3% and convictions by nearly 40%.”

Pennsylvania requires teens to take 65 hours of drivers education, with 10 of those hours at night and 5 during inclement weather. New Jersey doesn’t require drivers ed at all, but there are a number of other restrictions. For example, teens can can only have one passenger underage in the car until they are 18-years-old. Teens also have an 11-o’clock curfew and must sport a red decal on their license plate.

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“They are not allowed to use any electronics in the car,” says Pam Fisher, leader of NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition. “That means no cell-phone, no iPad, no GPS because we know they can be very distracted and this is a new and inexperienced driver.”

Pennsylvania also bans driving and texting and limits the number of underage passengers for the first six months of a junior license.

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For more on the AA study, go to http://midatlantic.aaa.com/teendriving.

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