Keeping young drivers safe on the road

Tuesday, August 16th 2005, 8:55 am
By: News On 6

A license to drive is a dream for some teenagers and a nightmare for some parents. A new state license program starts this year to keep young drivers safe on the road.

News on 6 reporter Omar Villafranca has more on the program that is easing some parent's fears.

Earlier this year, Tulsa Police say three teenagers horsing around in a moving car were in a serious accident. State lawmakers hope to prevent wrecks by starting the state's new Graduated Driver's License in November. Driving instructor James Furch: "They're learning the correct way of driving, you know. Sometimes, if you don't go through the driving school, a lot of things you do are incorrect. These students are learning the correct way of driving. Things that they should know."

Here's how the new state law works. A teen must be 15 and a half years old, enroll in a driving class and pass the tests to get a learner's permit. Now, they can get behind the wheel, as long as the passenger is someone at least 21-years old.

Student driver Jesse Lewis: "before I had not had a lot of driving, so it's a little bit more nervewracking.” Omar Villafranca: “are you getting more confident behind the wheel?” Jesse Lewis: “Yeah, the more I drive, the easier it gets."

After six months with their learner's permit, if they log 40-hours behind the wheel and keep a clean record, they can get an intermediate license. Now a student can drive alone to school or church related events and they can bring one buddy along.

Parent Jill Hansard: "It just gives me a lot of reassurance that he's going to know what he needs to know when he's out there on the road."

After another six months of safe driving, teens are free to drive with an unrestricted license.Freedom behind the wheel isn't a teens only motivation to stay safe.

Student driver Ryan Hansard: "it makes you want to do what you have to do in order to get it so then you can go places you want to go so you don't have to have Mom drive you around everywhere."

Other states with the Graduated License program showed significant declines in accidents involving 16-18 year olds. That's not the only number going down. Some insurance companies will also give a discount to teens that take the course.