SAN ANTONIO – Educators and transportation officials across the country have spent this week spreading the safe driving message during National Teen Driver Safety Week.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers aged 15 to 18.
“A ton of my kids will be driving soon and are driving now,” said Eric Wernli, principal of James Madison High School. “I want to make sure they get here to campus and get home safely to their families.”
Even though the week is coming to an end, school administrators say it’s a message they’ll continue to drive home all year. James Madison High School is hosting a safe driving program for students next week, reviving a program halted due to the pandemic.
“Last year we didn’t have that many people driving around campus,” Wernli said. “It wasn’t as important. But now, you know, we’re back to over 3,000 kids, so there’s going to be a ton of kids behind the wheel.
There will be interactive exhibits for students to explore, including an example of a vehicle being hit by a train. This is an important lesson for the students, as an active level crossing is just down the street from the school.
“We want to make sure students and the community are aware of the dangers of riding on train tracks or around handrails when a train is coming, to educate them to ensure they are safe and aware of their environment all the time,” said Janie Lopez, of the school’s PTSA.
The San Antonio City Court has these reminders for teen drivers and their parents about safe driving behaviors:
1. No alcohol or drugs. There is a zero tolerance law in Texas for drivers under 21.
2. No cell phone use. Cell phone use is prohibited by the Texas GDL and for all drivers under the age of 18.
3. No drowsy driving. The typical teenager doesn’t get enough sleep each night, which puts them at greater risk when driving.
4. No speeding. Speeding is one of the top three mistakes teenagers make when learning to drive.
5. No passengers. Passengers under the age of 21 in the car are one of the biggest distractions for teenage drivers.
6. Always fasten your seat belt! Most fatalities involving teenage deaths are caused by not buckling up.
Although there has been a decline in the number of teenage driving fatalities since 2009, there were still 1,603 fatalities in 2019. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, there were 2,042 total fatalities in crashes involving teenage drivers.
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