|Updated: 8/14/2012 9:12 pm
||Published: 8/14/2012 5:52 pm
Hundreds of teens will hit the road in Tulsa when school starts next week. The first three weeks of school tend to be the most dangerous for young drivers.
In a normal three week period EMSA generally responds to about five car crashes involving teens between the ages of 16 and 18. During the first three weeks of the school year medics respond to about seven times as many.
"You get really distracted easily," student driver Sam McCullough said. "Like a friend, you see a friend and you're like 'hey!' And then you drive off the road."
For most teens the problem rises from being easily distracted and a feeling of invincibility.
"I get that little feeling sometimes like, oh, I can do anything I want," student driver Anna Le said. "I'll be fine."
But the product of those flaws can be dangerous for everyone else on the road.
"A lot of them are inexperienced, some of them drive too fast, they drive erratically, they weave in and out of traffic all the time," driving instructor Greg Nash said.
Nobody denies it's a problem. The question is why are there more accidents when school starts?
Nash says the transition from a lazy, laid back summer to a busy, structured school schedule plays a big role.
"Some kids will get up at the last minute and think they can get to school in 5 or 10 minutes, you know with the traffic and parking their cars," he said.
All of the road construction around town will only cause more unexpected delays for them.
Kelli Bruer, spokeswoman for EMSA, says thats why teens should plan ahead and prepare for increased drive times rather than driving recklessly when they figure out they're late.
"Do a practice run several times going to your school and from school," she said.
Nash says it's good advice, but he worries the implications of operating a car are often lost on teens.
"Sometimes I don't think they understand what responsibility is being a driver of a car," he said.
"They don't worry about that," McCullough said. "They kind of worry about let's get where we're going and go as fast as we can or whatever with the car,"
That's why the start of the school year is an especially important time for all drivers to drive defensively. The biggest defensive technique he recommends is the three second rule for following. That means when you drive you should constantly pick landmarks, and then time yourself to make sure at least three seconds go by between when the car in front of you passes the landmark, and when you pass the landmark. That ensures a safe stopping distance if the car in front of you stops or drives erratically.
Drivers should also remember that school zones will begin again with the start of school next week, so if you see those flashing lights make sure you slow down to 25mph. And with school buses hitting the roads again, make sure you come to a complete stop if a school bus is stopped with flashing lights while loading or unloading children.
Tulsa Police and other area law enforcement agencies will be increasing patrols and ticket-writing near schools during the first three weeks of school.