Gulfport High School students learning driver safety during National Teen Driver Safety Week | #schoolsaftey

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – It’s a crisis that grows each year as the number of teen-driver vehicle accidents reaches new highs.

But National Teen Driver Safety Week aims to decrease the fatality and injury statistics.

Gulfport High School Driver’s Ed Instructor Zach Green says the more education the better prepared young people will be on the roads.

“I think it’s absolutely necessary for kids because over forty-two thousand people died last year because of car accidents,” said Green. “And, one of four was because of distracted driving.”

Green says cell phone usage is a major risk factor.

“With this age group that’s a big deal is that they’re constantly distracted by cell phones and all kinds of things,” said Green.

Zi’lyn Jones, a senior at Gulfport High School signed up for the driver’s ed course. She hopes her peers take road safety more seriously.

“It’s not worth it; driving distracted is not worth it,” said Jones. “Trying to look at a TikTok or a text message is also not worth it. It can cause a very long-term effect on you, your family, and someone else’s family.”

Along with distracted driving, speeding, and unbuckled seatbelts are critical issues. Jones lost her cousin to a fatal car crash.

“He was nineteen years old. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and it was very late at night,” said Jones. “He flew out of the windshield actually and he died on impact.”

Green says the course is optional but the enrollment numbers are a positive sign.

“Gulfport High School hasn’t had driver’s ed in over twenty years,” said Green. “We just started this year and we’ve already had between ninety and one hundred kids enroll. Gulfport High School is probably the largest fourth or fifth-largest school in the state of Mississippi. And you’re looking at numbers, they’re putting out probably about five hundred or six hundred kids through graduation every year. All those kids haven’t had driver’s education and you’re putting them out on the roadway.

Green says he hopes the two-term class will help prevent teen accidents in the future and help students feel more confident when getting behind the wheel.

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