Do Teens Get Enough Training Behind The Wheel?

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Knoxville (WVLT) Thursday, we reported that Tennessee teenagers are more likely to die in wrecks than teen-aged drivers in all but five other states, even though Tennessee has a graduated licensing program.

Some question whether they're getting enough training behind the wheel.

Others have suggested the road test for a license is too easy.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd saw for himself.

More than years with license, examiners tell me I'm getting the same
road test given every Tennessee 16 year old.

Robert Miller, the driver's license examiner tells me, "you need to relax, I will do some writing, it don't necessarily mean you're doing anything wrong if I'm writing."

Strictly observing and grading, he says, no coaching.

Miller continues, "If it's an experienced driver we have a shorter route."

Yesterday Tim Cagle got four right turns and done.

"I guess they would have no idea if we could drive an interstate or not."

Barbara Truitt, the Drivers License Office Manager says, "we don't have that much time to spend on a road test."

Nor will your teenager get a test in parallel parking.

They will, Juliet Slutzker says, "make left hand turns and right hand turns and lane changes, and I went in different speed zones."

So did I.

But far from perfectly.

Miller says, "you didn't have your turn signal on when we were sitting there waiting to turn, your turned it on as we was pulling out to turn.

It gets worse.

"You know the white line that runs across the road at red lights? Miller continues, "you're supposed to stop behind the line, on two occasions, you went across the line."

And I did 20 in 15 mile per hour curves.
Bottom line, Miller says, "you wouldn't flunk, there would be three checks against you. You can have up to six points and pass."

The stone face hides my relief.

Juliet Slutzker passed her first time out, but, "I've been driving with my parents for about a year, and I've had driver's ed."

Steve Huettle, with Knox County Drivers Education says, "we try to have all of them, when they get done with their six hours of driving and drivers ed, prepared to pass that test."

Still, instructors and examiners say, drivers ed doesn't give you anywhere near enough time behind the wheel.

"It's more up to the parents to make sure they get the knowledge and the practice that they need."

Better for the rest of us on the road too.

Driver's ed isn't required for a Tennessee license.

But parents are supposed to certify teen drivers have had 50 hours road practice for a learner's permit.

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