Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Two weeks ago I wrote about a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that found that teenage drivers were more likely to practice safe driving habits when being monitored by in-vehicle monitoring devices. While the devices can go a long way toward promoting safe teen driving, it’s the drivers themselves who must learn and practice safe driving skills.

I recently visited DriveTeam to do a story about a scholarship program sponsored by the Akron Area Auto Dealers Association. As a part of the program, 11 students from 10 different Akron area schools are currently involved in an essay contest to see if they can win a scholarship for two days of skills’ training at DriveTeam’s 15-acre paved facility on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls.

But it’s not just teens who need driver’s skills’ training. Every driver can benefit from the training available at DriveTeam. And while it has programs designed specifically for teens, it also has programs for seniors, EMS workers, police, firefighters, corporate drivers, and the elderly.

“People are starting to understand that teenagers need more training, especially with more cars, more people, and more aggression on the road,” said Ken Stout, president of DriveTeam. “But companies are also looking at their bottom line. Traffic accidents cost companies time and money, not to mention the possibility of physical injury or death. If companies are not self insured, then they realize the impact auto accidents have on their insurance rates.”

Certainly, teens are a primary concern. While younger drivers account for 6.3 percent of licensed drivers, they are involved in 16 percent of all traffic crashes. Inexperience, risky behavior, additional passengers, and alcohol use brew up a deadly cocktail for today’s younger drivers.

In 2006, Ohio had 432 drivers between the ages of 15 and 25 who were involved in fatal crashes.