Local News

Experience Essential for Teen Drivers

Posted August 23, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— All it takes is practice.

Statistics show that one out of every four first-year drivers gets into a car crash. Of those teens involved in accidents, 40% are either injured or killed.

However, there are ways to help curb the number of teens hurt behind the wheel. For many kids, their first experience on the highway is with someone like Kenneth Fulford, a Wake County driver's education instructor. Fulford says that his role in the learning process is only to lay a foundation for the student driver.

Fulford insists that when his course is finished, the ball bounces into the parents' court. He says that mom and dad have to reinforce the basics that he teaches.

However, each year in North Carolina, 60,000 teenagers bypass their learners' permits. Instead, they wait until they turn sixteen, and then, with little experience behind the wheel, they get their driver's license. That inexperience has led to an increasing number of accidents.

A driver's education class is not the only way pick up the basics of highway safety. Some insurance companies will send video tapes to young drivers, showing them how to stay safe on the road.

However, according to N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Winstead, the best way for parents to protect their commuting kids is to be a passenger for a while.

Practice may not make perfect, but it can give young drivers a better chance at years of safer driving.