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10-Year-Old Car Crash Used to Educate Teens in Las Vegas

A fatal accident that occurred 10 years ago in Las Vegas has a beneficial effect today: It is used to help educate high school students about the dangers of excessive speed and driver inexperience, according to KRNV-TV. In 2001, a carful of high school girls were rushing back to school after eating lunch off school grounds. As they sped down a winding road named Sahara Avenue, the driver lost control. The car spun out, struck a pole and split in half. Two of the five girls died, and the remaining three sustained serious injuries. The crash is remembered by many in the community and resulted in several changes.

Students in Clark County, Nevada, are no longer allowed to leave school premises for lunch. The accident is also used by Metro Police to explain to new drivers the hazards of getting behind the wheel. "We always come back to this particular incident when we're out in the community talking to them about this," noted Detective Bill Redfairn. "There [are] lessons to be learned from this accident."

One of the lessons is that although excessive speed was involved, the real cause of the accident was driver inexperience. Police found that despite the excess speed, the driver could have recovered if she had known what to do. Part of the problem is the way we teach young drivers to drive. "The problem with driver's education in this country is none of us are ever taught how to drive," said Driver's Edge founder Jeff Payne. "We're just taught to simply pass a test." Payne launched his hands-on driver education program just months after the accident. As part of the program, survivors of the crash spoke to students about the accident for several years. The program has grown to educate students nationwide. It also provides instruction for corporations as well.

Classroom Instruction Part of the Program

According to the program's website, participants receive expert instruction in skid control, evasive lane change maneuvers, antilock braking skills, panic breaking techniques and other skills. Classroom instruction is also part of the program. Detective Redfairn believes that lives have been saved due to driver education programs like this, but much remains to be done. Every day almost 1,200 16- to 20-year olds are injured or killed by car accidents.