Free Driving Course For Teenagers Aims To Lower Road Fatalities: Driver Safety & Real-Life Emergency Avoidance Offered

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald October 07, 05:30 am

Teenage driving fatalities propelled a racecar expert to create a free driving course. Jeff Payne developed a curriculum and founded the non-profit organization Driver's Edge in 2002 that caters to teenage drivers.

Motor vehicle crashes are the major cause of death among teenagers in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, 2,163 teens aged between 16 and 19 died in the U.S. while 243,243 were treated in hospitals for sustaining injuries due to motor vehicle crashes.

This statistic means that six teens aged 16 to 19 were killed every day due to motor vehicle accidents. Some of the leading causes of teen crashes are inexperience, nighttime driving, distraction, drowsiness, recklessness and not using seat belts.

Fortunately, Driver's Edge aims to prepare teenage drivers for the dangers they could encounter on the road. Since its conception, the program has provided free defensive driving classes to more than 110,000 teenagers and their parents across the United States.

Motor vehicle crashes are most prevalent among teenagers aged between 16 and 19. These age groups are almost three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than drivers aged 20 and older.

Payne believes that people shouldn't be too quick to blame young drivers for these accidents, ABC's Local10 reported from CNN. Rather, teenagers should be taught the proper way of driving to avoid road crashes and fatalities. For Payne, teens should be prepared for the challenges and hazards of driving in the real world "so they don't end up as a statistic."

Teenagers with a valid license or permit and their families are eligible for Driver's Edge's free half-day course. Participants are taught driver safety, real-life emergency avoidance, and response techniques.

Teens and their parents are taken on a vehicle walk-around, which teaches basic maintenance tips, tire safety, appropriate seating and steering positions, the risks of being distracted, and the significance of seat belts. Law enforcement officials are also there to talk to the teenagers and their families about handling various situations they would encounter while driving.

Driver's Edge puts teenagers and their families in exercises such as panic braking and what happens when a vehicle loses traction and skids. Both of the course's educational components and instructors are engaging and easy to approach.

Menawhile, Payne is proud how Driver's Edge changes the mentality of young drivers. Arrogant teenagers who believe that they know all they have to learn about driving are suddenly realizing that driving is a more serious business than they originally thought. It's also rewarding when Driver's Edge helps timid, nervous teenage drivers gain confidence about driving.

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