Extra hour of driver’s ed can save lives, study says

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in America. 22News reporter found out why some researchers are arguing many of those deaths are preventable.

Young drivers are often accused of being careless behind the wheel.

“It’s amazing to look over and see the young kids texting or reading or applying their makeup and it’s, scary! It’s really scary,” Pat Bettinger, from Westfield, said.

The national Safety Council reports that one out of every 20 accidents is caused by some kind of mechanical failure with the car, but the other 19 out of 20 are caused by drivers’ behavior, including drinking while driving, texting behind the wheel, and speeding.”

But new research done in cooperation with UMass Amherst suggests that young drivers would be exponentially safer with merely one more hour of driver’s education.

The study found that young drivers with additional training we able to anticipate hazardous situations nearly double the amount of times than those who didn’t get the extra training.

The state of Massachusetts currently requires 30 hours of classroom lessons and 18 hours of in-car instructions, but only 12 of those have the student actually driving. The other 6 are peer observation hours.

“We only have them for 12 hours which is not enough time to go over everything and to properly teach them. Kids learn at different speeds, at different levels,” Stephen Brochu, Vice President of the AAA Pioneer Valley, said.

Brochu also told 22News the state’s required minimum 40 hours of supervised driving practice with a parent or guardian is essential to safe driving education.

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