Deanne Stein, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – As a parent, it can be worrisome when your teenager receives their driver's license. And with schools across Oklahoma doing away with driver's education programs, it's more challenging to make sure they are prepared for the road.
In recognition of Teen Driver Safety Week, October 16-22, AAA Oklahoma wants to remind parents of a program they can use to teach their teen how to drive. The course is called "Take The Wheel" and includes both at-home and in-car instructional materials.
"High quality driver's education materials are hard to find," said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. "We often get calls from parents who ask us how they can prepare their teens to survive the many risks teens face on the road. This parent-taught program fills a real need – plus because it is certified by the Oklahoma Dept. of Public Safety, it qualifies as bona-fide driver's ed. under the state's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law and allows teens to qualify for standard driver's ed. discounts offered by most auto insurance companies."
According to AAA, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. In fact, more than 730,000 young drivers ages 15 to 18 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2009. In these crashes, 280,000 were injured and 2,805 were killed.
In Oklahoma in 2008, there were 39 teenage drivers ages 16 or 17 killed in traffic crashes, down from a high of 75 killed in 2000. State safety officials attribute the decline in teen fatalities to Oklahoma's strong GDL law that gradually phases-in driving privileges as teens gain experience behind the wheel.
"The loss of these young lives is tragic but what is especially heart-breaking is the fact that most traffic crashes are preventable," said Mai. "Teens have to come to grips with the fact that it can happen to them and that they need to do all they can to reduce distractions in the vehicle, to always wear seat belts and to be defensive drivers."
For more information about Take the Wheel, call 1-800-222-2582, or visit www.AAATakeTheWheel.com. The kit can also be purchased at any of AAA's 42 offices across Oklahoma.