Numerous Deadly Teen Crashes Raise Concern

Friday, February 27th 2009, 11:26 pm
By: News 9

By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A new traffic safety report shows crashes involving teen drivers killed over 28,000 people in a 10 year period across the nation.

Some say that's why driver's education courses are so important. One metro driver's education teacher says he'd like to see change.

Dave Gleason has spent the last 35 years teaching. The faces are different, but they've always been teens on the verge of hitting the road. Gleason hopes they'll pay attention.

"I had a young lady from Choctaw High School that I had in class and she was killed in a car wreck about a year ago now," Gleason said.

That's exactly what terrifies the mother of driver's education student, Jamie.

"I'm scared to death for them to drive," Jamie's mother Kimberly Gregory said.

She remembers learning to coast the streets herself but says there's a key difference these days.

"When I was in school it was offered at the schools, but now it's not and I think it's very important," Gregory said.

Despite the fact that Gleason gets his income from teaching at his own driving school he thinks it should be daily curriculum in public schools.

"It's going to save lives, I mean, it doesn't do them a whole lot of good to have a 4.0 [grade point average], student that gets an academic scholarship to OU if they crash and kill themselves driving down to Norman," Gleason said.

Just last month, 16-year-old Bailey Morgan crashed and killed a man on his 43rd birthday before passing away herself.

It goes along with a new AAA study that shows for every teen driver killed in a crash, nearly twice as many others die.

For the past four years, at least one legislator has tried to get funding to schools so they can incorporate drivers education into daily courses. It's failed each time since the cost of doing so is called "overwhelming."

In Oklahoma, teens are not required to take driver's education, although there are significant incentives if they do.

There is some good news in AAA's report. Overall, teen accidents are down nationwide. It's attributed to programs like Oklahoma's graduated driver licensing system. Experts say, still, more work needs to be done.