Teen Driving Deaths In Wisconsin Exceed National Average

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email

Teenagers get into more accidents than adults. They make up 6% of all Wisconsin drivers and account for 16% of all crashes, which is worse than the national average.

One reason for this is that teens just learning how to drive are more likely to get distracted behind the wheel.

"Teens take more risks than some of the other drivers. They may pull out in front of somebody when they don't necessarily have the distance to do it safely. They have a tendency to speed a little bit more and take more risks," Wisconsin State Patrol Sergeant Travis Wanless told NewsChannel 7.

That's why it's so important teens follow the lessons taught in Drivers Ed, such as always wearing your seatbelt, not drinking and driving and not speeding.

Peggy Olbrantz has been teaching Drivers Ed for more than 30 years. She thinks part of the problem is that teens just get lazy with safety. The best way to prevent this laziness, practice.

"Parents have to practice with their kids," Olbrantz advises.

She says that Drivers Ed teachers don't have the time to teach kids absolutely everything they need to know. That's why she's hoping to see some changes made to the Graduated Drivers License Law. Right now the law mandates 30 classroom hours and 6 behind the wheel instruction hours. Olbrantz would like to see that increase to at least 40 classroom hours and 12 behind the wheel hours.

Since the Graduated Drivers License Law went into effect back in 2000, teen driving deaths have gone down. But that number is still higher than for older drivers.

Sergeant Wanless says the most important safety measure teens can take is to keep their eyes on the road. That means putting away the cell phone, turning down the radio, and if you're a passenger, don't distract the driver.


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