GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) – Car crashes are now the leading cause of death among Indiana teens 15 to 18 years old.
A new study by the personal finance website, Wallet Hub, said Indiana ranks first in the nation in teen driving deaths.
News 18’s sister station WISH-TV went to a driving school to find out what Indiana’s teen drivers are learning. A driving instructor said that teen drivers can learn the basics, but becoming a skilled, safe driver takes years.
Sixteen-year-old Joseph Mangan is taking steps to become a licensed driver. He’s now taking a drivers ed course to learn the rules of the road.
“I’m really excited; It’s a big responsibility, but it’ll be nice to be able to drive places. Get around,” Mangan said.
Mangan is enrolled at Drive Zone in Greenwood. The driver education school teaches young and inexperienced drivers how to stay safe on the road.
“We do the best we can with teaching them all that we know,” said driving instructor Kim Heiney.
Heiney has been a driving instructor for nine years. She was a little shocked to hear Indiana has the most deaths per teen driver.
“It doesn’t feel too good especially when you’ve been teaching for so long,” Heiney said.
She said many teens aren’t thinking when they get behind the wheel.
“They just get in and go. They get distracted with their friends. They turn up the music. They don’t hear things going on around them. They’ll use their phone, texting and talking, and it gets distracting,” she said.
Heiney said that’s why there are required classroom hours and driving time — something Mangan said helps.
“It just gives you situations and stuff that’ll make you less scared. If I hadn’t had that, I would have been more scared on my first drive,” he said.
“I do like the fact that they’re requiring a certain number of hours and they are making it a little bit tighter,” said Rosemarie Mangan.
Heiney said all drivers can take a lesson from the study.
“Remember everything that you’ve learned, remember the signs. What they are there for. The lanes. The lines in the road. The wheel. You can’t forget little stuff like that. You always have to be looking out,” Heiney said.
All new drivers, regardless of age, must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving time before being eligible for a driver’s license in Indiana. Drivers younger than 16 years old must complete driver’s training during a driver’s education course. Teens can apply for their learner’s permit after turning 15 years old.