Driver's ed: focusing on distracted driving

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Justin Jones

VIENNA, Ill. - Marc Palmer is a softball coach and driver's ed teacher at Vienna High School.  He says with both, practice is key.

"We give them lots of scenarios every time we're on the road," he explained of his teaching method.

His students learn, not only from behind the wheel, but in a classroom setting as well. He admits he's had to learn things in recent years too, as technology changed.

"Everybody multi-tasks and it is scary," he admits of teens driving while texting on their phones.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 75 percent of serious teen driver crashes are due to what's called 'critical errors'- including being distracted by something inside or out of the car.  

Statistics show teen passengers and cell phones are two distractions proven to kill teens.

In fact, according to the NHTSA, in 2010, 11-percent of teen drivers that died in crashes were distracted while driving.

Paducah instructor Fred Myers is facing the same problems, "When I started 17 years ago, there were no cell phones.  Now, cell phones have become a big part of the kids' lifestyle."

Myers cautions teens about the dangers of texting and driving. Because others could be doing the same thing, defensive driving is now a bigger part of his instruction.

"You may be the best driver in the world and you encounter the worst driver out there, you have to look for other people," he said of advice given to new drivers.

Marc Palmer tells his students the same, especially when they are in the car without him, "Hopefully they make the right choice when they get behind the wheel of a car."

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