Defensive Driving for Teen-Aged Drivers

We see it all the time. Some of us are even guilty of it ourselves. As the light turns red, cars are still speeding through the intersection. It's a major cause of accidents at traffic lights. It cost the lives of two teenage girls on January 6th, 2005. A car travelling at even 55 miles per hour is covering seventy-two feet per second. That doesn't give anyone much time for error.

Statistics show the mistakes teenage drivers make are often just that... errors in judgement. The Alabama State Patrol says the number of mistakes made by young drivers are going up. Trooper Donald Frazier says, "Within the last two years, we've seen a 13% increase in teenage fatalities."

When teenagers get behind the wheel, lack of experience can lead to bad decision-making. Far too often, highway officials say teenagers pick up bad habits from the first drivers they see, their parents. "You say stop at the lights," Frazier adds, "but when they're riding with their parents, they speed up through the lights. So what are the kids going to? They're going to speed up also." Techniques on avoiding deadly situations on the road are taught in defensive driving courses. Alabama only requires D.U.I. offenders to take to take the course. Highway patrolmen say it's instruction that all drivers could benefit from, especially teenagers. Parents should also take a more active role in their children's driving instruction. "Pick up a basic driver's handbook, read the entire book. Don't just skim over it. Read the entire book with your child. Make sure they understand it before you turn them loose with a car."

Driving courses are free and could save yours or a loved one's life. If you're interested in signing up for defensive driving course, call the Office of Public Safety at 242-4445.