Teens take safe driving classes after car accident death toll increases

Posted March 30, 2016 5:41 p.m. EDT
Updated March 30, 2016 5:47 p.m. EDT

— Car accidents are the number one killer of teenagers in the U.S. To combat this statistic, a group of these new drivers spent a portion of their spring break learning driving skills that could end up saving their lives.

The Ford Driving Skills for Life program held two days of free training for teens in Raleigh on Wednesday. The Ford company travels around the country offering these courses for teens.

In these behind-the-wheel sessions, participants learn life skills that aren't taught in normal driver's ed classes, like what it feels like to slip on snow or spin out and what it's like to drive drunk.

"My dad's always telling me [that I] don't know everything even though, as a teenager, we feel like we do," Malcolm Ford, a 17-year-old participant, said. "So I came out here to learn."

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the numbers of fatalities due to car accidents involving teenage drivers is climbing. In 2015, 61 teen drivers died in accidents on North Carolina roads. This year, in only three months, there have already been 34 deaths - that's more than half of the numbers recorded last year.

"Many teens are over-confident, and those are the ones we have to show you can't do everything," said Nolan Caterberg, the Ford Driving Skills for Life program manager. "And then there are ones that are timid, and we have to bring them up a little bit."

Instructors at the Raleigh sessions let WRAL's Tara Lynn take a spin behind the wheel, too, so she could experience how it feels to lose control of a car. "I was nervous, but now I feel a lot more confident that I would know what to do if my car spun out," she said. "The teens agreed and say they won't take their safety or others for granted [when they're behind the wheel]."

Ford also provides an online certificate course in safe driving for teens.