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.

“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.

“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.

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

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