Teens get schooled in driving safety

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PLACERVILLE, CA - The Placerville office of the California Highway Patrol is hosting three Start Smart classes in Cameron Park in the next few weeks on the heels of a serious solo-vehicle crash that seriously injured three Ponderosa High School students.

“This is a great program for new drivers,” said Officer Quinn Cuthberson, spokesman for the Placerville CHP office.

On Sunday March 3, three teens were in a 1970 Chevrolet Nova on North Shingle Road when the driver, driving at a high-rate of speed, lost control hitting at least two trees and ripping the car in half. The driver and front female passenger who was ejected, remain hospitalized. The third teen, riding in the back seat, has returned to school.

For many teenagers getting their driver’s license provides possibilities of new destinations and freedom. However, the CHP is quick to point out that new drivers lack the experience that is needed in many situations.

“There are ways to keep a new driver, and their passengers, safe on the road,” Cuthberson he said.

According to the CHP teen drivers are found at fault in 66 percent of all fatal collisions in which they are involved. Teen drivers represent roughly four percent of California’s licensed drivers.

The leading cause of death for American age 15 to 210 is a motor vehicle collision, according to the CHP.

Alana Hendricks, of Shingle Springs, home schools her three children. One is on the verge of getting his license.

“He’s my oldest and I don’t think I’m really prepared for him to be driving, especially on our windy roads up here,” she said.

After learning of the Start Smart class, Hendricks said it is definitely something she is going to look into.

The California Highway Patrol’s Start Smart program is a driver safety education class which targets new and future licensed teenage drivers between the age of 15-19 and their parents/guardians.

“You want to give (your kids) every tool to succeed in everything – and that includes driving,” Hendricks said.