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Teens driving in the community

By Claire Bauer, RCHS intern writer; courtesy photo

Photo of girl with newly-obtained driver instruction permit.

Sophomore at Rock Canyon High School and Castle Pines resident Katie Dupper takes a spin with her newly-obtained driver instruction permit. Teenage drivers in Colorado need to hold an instruction permit for one full year and log 50 hours of driving time before they can test for a driver license by age 16.

As October wrapped up, so did the 14th Annual National Teen Driver Safety Week. It is a week that highlights safe driving habits and encourages awareness of teenage drivers on the roads. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the leading cause of death in teens ages 15 to 18 in the U.S. is motor vehicle crashes, and data shows teenage-caused driving accidents may be on the rise, making this national week especially important.

The Center for Disease Control’s Transportation Safety data reports that young adults ages 16 to 19 are about three times more likely to be in fatal crashes than other age groups, especially teenagers who allow distractions or adverse conditions to influence their driving performance.

A travel survey conducted in 2016-2017 showed that younger and newer drivers are up to three times more likely to be in fatal crashes at night than adult or more experienced drivers. In 2019, this data was confirmed, with at least 40% of recorded motor vehicle crashes resulting in teen (ages 13-19) fatalities happened between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. A majority of which occurred on weekend nights. Other situations to avoid include, but are not limited to speeding, driving with distracting passengers (such as friends or siblings), driving unsupervised while recently licensed, driving while using items such as phones, makeup, or food and drink, driving without seatbelts, driving under the influence and more.

“I thankfully don’t have any scary personal driving stories, but I know someone who was a passenger in a really bad drunk driving accident and got injured,” said Rock Canyon High School sophomore Brennan Lanam.

Other outside influences like weather, other bad drivers, or even animals can affect this as well.

“I’ve literally driven like three times, and I’ve still managed to somehow kill a snake already. I’m definitely not a driving prodigy,” said Rock Canyon High School sophomore Katie Dupper. “I have my permit and I’m very excited to have my license, but it’s hard, even just getting all the hours,” she continued.

Colorado teenagers are required to have a total of 50 hours of supervised driving practice with their permit over a span of at least 12 months before they can legally obtain their license.

“I’ve mostly been driving with my dad. We started at the Douglas County Fairgrounds parking lot and we went from there,” said Lanam. “I’m really excited to get my license and wish I could sooner, but I haven’t been doing well as far as getting my driving hours in. I procrastinated getting my permit too, but now that I’m driving I really regret that.”



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