As teens learn driving, education still plays crucial role | #schoolsaftey

In the fast-paced journey toward independence, teens eagerly embrace the open road, propelled by the thrill of steering their destiny. National Teen Driver Safety Week shines a light on the critical role of education in ensuring these young lives remain safe while navigating the complexities of the modern road.

As teenagers obtain their driver’s licenses, the allure of newfound freedom takes center stage.

“A lot of my friends got their driver’s license over the summer. So everyone’s just excited to get a car and drive to school every day,” said Skylar Ricard, 16.

Yet, for parents like Tara Ricard, Skylar’s mother, the newfound freedom is accompanied by a unique set of worries.

“Like we don’t take her out during the heavy, congested times,” Tara said. “We’re trying to anticipate, you know, giving her the best opportunity for success.”

As Skylar takes her first steps behind the wheel, she grapples with navigating busy roads where the actions of other drivers can be unpredictable and impatient. Her father, Bill Ricard, acknowledges her cool-headed demeanor.

“Skylar, by nature, is very calm, cool and collected,” Ricard said, “but aside from that, I have told her to try to anticipate what the other drivers are going to do.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s research highlights a grave concern – distractions, such as cell phone usage, can increase a teen’s risk of crashing by a staggering 23 times. Skylar said she understands the gravity of the risks.

“You need to make sure you understand that you’re driving a very expensive vehicle,” she said, “and you also have to be safe for yourself and the drivers around you.”

Statistics from the AAA Foundation are unsettling: 72% of teens engage in reckless driving behaviors. This includes speeding in residential areas, driving aggressively and neglecting to wear seat belts. Shockingly, seat belt usage among teen drivers is the lowest, with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study revealing that 51% of fatal crashes in 2021 involved teens who failed to buckle up.

Mike Sweeney, a AAA traffic safety educator, and Linda Renken, a AAA drivers education instructor, emphasize the importance of continuing education and hands-on experience for both parents and teens, especially in adverse conditions.

“When they encounter their first snowstorm, go out with your child and drive in the snow so that they know how to handle it,” Renken said.

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