Teen Driving Deaths

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The number of 16-year-olds killed in Georgia speeding related traffic accidents has fallen in half. The experts credit increased driver education. Drivers Ed teachers say their classes aren't the only reasons for the improvements.

Over the past five years, the number of teenage drivers killed in traffic accidents has plunged in Georgia, and local safety experts say it's part of a community-wide effort to improve young driver safety.

Steve Lankford, a Lowndes Drivers Ed teacher, says, "The state of Georgia, the state of Florida, they've gone to a mandatory program where parents have to ride with students for 40 hours, even some at night, and I think Drivers Education class, the 850 kids we've had here, I think we've helped some of them."

State leaders credit a three-stage licensing process, where students get a learners permit, followed by a restricted drivers permit, and then finally a full scale adult driver's license.

Young drivers say even though they haven't had a lot of experience behind the wheel, they've heard enough stories about people their age being killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents, and that's why they're taking Drivers Education classes very seriously.

Rachel Cooper, a 15-year-old driver, says, "I hear about it all the time, people running off the road, and it’s kind of scary because I go a lot of the places where accidents happen, and I know people who've gotten into accidents."

Jordan Ayers, a sophomore learning to drive, adds, "It makes me be really careful, and just be safe as I can be. It really scares me."

Officials say that kind of fear saves lives.

Drivers Education teachers also say continued safety improvements in cars and trucks also helps protect the young, inexperienced drivers.