It is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and right now thousands of Texoma Teens could be at risk every time they get behind the wheel. According to a new study by Dr. Chandra Bhat of UT Austin, 16 and 17 year-olds who drive pick-up trucks are twice as likely to be seriously injured in a crash than those who drive other vehicles.
Many young pick-up drivers say they feel more safe than in a car. I feel safer in a truck than in a car, because I'm sitting higher and I see over everything.", said MSU Student Jason Baugh. Wichita Falls Police say the size of pick-ups can give false confidence. They say putting too many people in the front seat of a truck can lead to distractions - a leading cause of crashes.
MSU Theatre Student Devon Farnsworth drives a truck. He says he knows his limits. "I'm still not the most cautious person but I know what my truck can do and what it can't do and I balance myself between that.", he said. Farnsworth says he sees many young people street racing along Kemp at night. He worries for their safety. "They get their cars together and they say 'OK, let's race!' and people in trucks that think they've got their truck tricked out, if they turn a corner too fast or if they stop too had something's going to go wrong and they're going to flip.", he said.
In this except from the UT Cockrell School of Engineering web site, Bhat offers some tips for parents to help keep teen drivers safe:
-Make sure your teen is well rested before driving and is emotionally in control.
-Don't just monitor what your teen is doing but have a clear agreement with him/her on what they can and can't do while driving and make sure they follow it.
-Consider technology and safety features of a vehicle. Bhat said there is often a mentality with parents to give their teens the old family vehicle, which, while cheaper than buying a new car, usually does not have the latest safety features.
-People are more likely to drive aggressively during morning rush hour because of time constraints to get to their work or office. Make sure your teen has enough time to reach her or his destination without worrying about being late.
-Kids mimic what parents do. From the time they're little, try not to drive aggressively, and set an example of safe and responsible driving.