Few things in life are more unsettling for parents than watching their teenagers take off behind the wheel of a car those first few times. For the young drivers, the sense of liberation can be intoxicating, sometimes dangerously so. Thus we have National Teen Driver Safety Week.
Between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., when there’s the most congestion on the road, is also when most accidents occur.
Fourteen-year old Corey Diohep of Hampstead can’t wait to get his learner’s permit next year. “I’m pretty excited about driving because then I’ll be able to drive up to Rhode Island when I get my license and see all my old friends again.”
His dad, on the other hand, isn’t so excited. The same day his other son got his driver’s license, he got in an accident.
“It was enough to scare him so he’s a little more secure in his driving, a little more safe in his driving,” Tim Diohep said.
Last year the North Carolina Department of Transportation reported more than 46,000 crashes involving 15 to 19 year olds. In two thirds of them, the teen driver was at fault.
“Talking on your cell phone, reading a book, trying to eat a sandwich, texting while driving, these are all common distractions that cause these particular types of collisions,” said Trooper Hugh Cannady of the NC Highway Patrol.
Experts encourage parents to monitor their teens’ driving.
David Brewster teaches a driving safety course in Wilmington called Street Safe for teens and their parents.
“Parents a lot of times assume that when they pass driver’s ed and get their license from dmv that they’re good drivers, and that’s not the case. They’re very dangerous simply because a lack of experience and lack of skill,” Brewster said.
In more than half of the 46,000 accidents involving teenagers, the drivers were not wearing their seat belts. Drinking was involved at least 1,200 of them. Those are two things Corey Diohep is already thinking about. When asked what he was going to keep in mind, he said, “Seatbelt and probably don’t drink and drive.”
In North Carolina, anyone under 18-years-old is required to take a 36 hour driver’s ed course before getting a learner’s permit.
New Hanover and Pender County high schools offer driver’s ed after school. For more information, you can check out Street Safe’s website.