Student drivers face new challenges on the road

Lawton_Statistics show teen drivers are a high-risk group when it comes to road incidents. 25% of 16-year olds behind the wheel are involved in an accident or receive a ticket during their first year of driving. That's where drivers education makes an impact, and it's been evolving to meet the latest conditions faced by drivers.

Some student drivers will get their drivers permits on Thursday after successfully completing the four-week drivers education course offered by Lawton Public Schools. The program has adapted as more drivers hit the road, gas prices climb and technology advances. The students have been winding their vehicles through obstacles, learning the basics of turning, parking and more, helping to ease the nerves for inexperienced drivers such as Thaddeus Johnson. "My first experience was very, very scary. I didn't even know what I was doing at all."

New student drivers must be more focused than ever to avoid distracting gadgets. Drivers education teacher Virgil Maddox says he teaches students things he never even thought about just a few years ago. "Texting - texting drivers - nowadays they love to text and they love to talk. Save that for once you're off the road." He stressed, "If you are going to be driving, you probably need to have a job because gas prices are so high."

Students are not the only ones coping with higher gas prices. Barbara Ellis, LPS Middle School Executive Director, says, "We are looking at the cost of the program and the cost of the tuition. After the summer is over with, all of the increase in gas, I am sure the tuition will go up next year."