TECH BYTE: Use Tech to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Memorial Day recently kicked off the unofficial start of summer, and the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers.

Crash report data from AAA found that more than 30 percent of deaths involving teen drivers nationwide happened between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

If that doesn’t get your attention, 16-to 17-year-olds are also three times more likely to be involved in a deadly car crash than older drivers.

“That’s the hardest adjustments for young drivers to make going from that passenger seat, where you can have those distractions, to going to the driver’s seat, where you need to cut them off,” said John Collins, a former Chattanooga police officer.

Collins recently opened a driving academy to help those kids about to hit the road.

The academy teaches AAA driving standards, and even has a driving simulator. That way teens can safely get behind the wheel, without actually being behind the wheel.

Collins says it’s all about forming safe habits, not bad ones.

“As temperatures get up, you kind of want to turn up the radio, you want to drive a little bit faster, you’re having fun, and you’re not as focused on the job as driving, and that’s one thing we try to get them to do to make sure we get them in the habit of when you drive, your only objective is to drive,” Collins said.

One of Collins’ driving students, Chase Moretz, knows it doesn’t take much to distract teens while behind the wheel.

He says taking a driving class has definitely helped him to be more aware of his surroundings.

“I think that we think we know it all a lot of times, but in reality we’re not paying attention,” Moretz said. “We’re playing, like I said, Pokemon Go, or Fortnite mobile in the passenger’s seat. I think this class has really helped open up my eyes, and just, you know, I’d say boost my confidence, but at the same time, kind of humble me in a way.”

While teens – and adults too – should put their phones away while in the driver’s seat, smartphones can at least help parents better keep track of their kids. Especially new drivers.

Apps like Life 360 can even tell you how fast your teen is driving, where they’ve been, and if they’ve been in a crash.

And if you’re a AAA member, the AAA app can help with trip planning, discounts, and roadside assistance.

There’s also a AAA approved driving school network. It’s worth checking out if you’d like your teen to take a driving class.

You can find that, and teen driving tips on


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