Driving Young

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Jim Moss, a driver's ed teacher at Sparks and Spanish Springs High School, tries to bring home the reality of safe driving to his students, because it doesn't always hit home.

Last November two sisters on their way to Spanish Springs High School died when one lost control of the car. Neither 17-year-old Jessica Welch nor her 16-year-old sister Cassie died when their car hit an SUV head-on.

One of the victims was his student.

"I had one of them in my driver's ed class and she was a really nice gal. Like I said, the kids feel they're invincible, that nothing is going to happen to them. It's going to happen to somebody else all the time. I hope sometimes it brings it home, sometimes it can happen to anybody."

Nevada is sixth on the national list of worst teen drivers. A new state law is similar to the suggestions offered by the National Safety Council to help young drivers. It requires a driver to be at least 16 years old before they can get a driver's permit, then they must have the permit at least six months before applying for a license.

These young drivers will have to wait three months before starting to cart around their teenage friends.

Steve Mathews with AAA in Reno says the law is just a beginning to change the statistics.

"I think it's a great first start and it's startling because the statistics are during the summer months, teenage drivers are four times more likely to get in a fatal accident than those the ages between 25 and 65."

But Moss says the driver's education never leave the classroom.

In Nevada, he says, it's only book work that teaches them the rules of the road. The rest is left to the parent. He says it is key to get out on the streets with your teen, as often as possible.

"Just like we're doing right now. Side streets, I wouldn't take them on the freeway. Even when I talk to highway patrol or REMSA, keep the kids off the freeway for probably six to eight months after they get their driver's license."

The National Safety Council recommends all of these rules to ensure teen driving fatalities decrease. They also say teenagers should not be allowed complete freedom for nighttime driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.