National Teen Driver Safety Week starts, raises driving dangers

One of the big issues is distracted driving, which can be anything from playing with the radio to using a cell phone

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Across Ohio, there are digital signs reading “Your OMG and LOL can wait” followed by a warning that 110 Ohio teen drivers have died in 2016.

Sunday marks the first day of National Teen Driver Safety Week. It’s a campaign to warn new drivers of the many dangers they could face when behind the wheel.

One of the big issues is distracted driving — which can be anything from playing with the radio, eating or, of course, using a cell phone. And these warnings aren’t just on the road, but also the classroom.

“Generally, in every class, we have something that pertains to not texting and driving because it is such a huge issue right now,” said Jon Brown, a driving instructor at All Star Driving School in Boardman.

Brown said when he’s teaching on the road, he sees a lot drivers texting — young and old.

For one student in Sunday’s class, he knows there’s a stigma with teen drivers and texting.

“When you first start, you’re probably a little more cautious,” Tyler Rabenstine said. “But then as you drive, you probably become more cocky and willing to focus on other things than driving.”

Say you’re traveling at 55 mph and you look down at your cell phone for five seconds — you’ve just traveled the equivalent of a football field without looking at the road.

“It’s hard enough being a new driver — getting used to that and everything that’s around you — but then you put a cell phone in your hands,” said Sgt. Jason Bonar of Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Bonar gave these stats about teen driving accidents: since 2013, there are over 92,000 crashes in Ohio involving teenage drivers, with 73 percent of those being the teen drivers fault.

“If that person happens to be stopping for an animal that came out in front of them or someone in the roadway, or someone may just be turning into a driveway, if you’re not paying any attention, that can be a pretty serious accident,” Bonar said.