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Safe Driving Lessons Offered for Young Drivers

WTHR (NBC 13 Indianapolis), Chris Proffitt

Hamilton County - After a deadly accident on Monday that killed a Sheridan teenager, teen driver safety is top of mind. An innovative driver training program aims to make teens better and safer drivers.

Aaron Scaggs, 16, was killed on Monday when a teen driver lost control at over 100 mph and crashed, flipping the car. Scaggs was in the back seat and did not have a seat belt on.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. It's terrible pain," said Cory White, Aaron Scagg's uncle.

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens who, critics say, don't get the proper training before getting behind the wheel. It's a fear shared among parents.

"Right now, he has his permit but he's been driving on the freeway and that makes me so nervous because they need more experience," said Laverne Pfab, Fishers parent.

That's something the Key To Safe Teen Driving program intends to change.

The program is organized by Cleveland-based Key Bank. It teaches advanced driving skills that driver's education programs skip, like braking in water or driving out of a spin.

The Mid-Ohio School driving instructors that do the training say while the average 16-year-old soccer player has had 1,500 hours of coaching, a normal 16-year-old driver has had only 50 hours of driver training.

"They're trying to put them in situations that hopefully, they don't find themselves in on the road. But if they do, they've experienced it here and they'll be prepared for that," said Dan Davis, Key Bank.

Experts place students in real-life situations in a controlled environment. A skid car simulates being in a car that's skidding out of control. "They learn how to steer and look where they want to go. They practice wet braking, getting into the anti-lock braking. Most kids have never experienced that. They get to learn what that feels like and they know what it's gonna feel like and they can prepare for it," said Davis.

The teen driver training program is visiting eight schools in four cities, but the hope is to double that next year.

"It helped a lot. I never would have thought that any of this would make a difference," said Bruce Goldberg, Hamilton Southeastern student.

The difference, say safe driving advocates, is training teenage drivers for the unexpected, with the goal of making them better and safer drivers on increasing crowded roads.

The statistics are sobering. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds.

"We feel that the key to safe driving is better training and that's what the program's all about," said Davis.

Call 877-793-8667 to get more information and to register. More info here.

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