CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) -- Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers across the United States. With that in mind, the Conway Police Department decided to take a proactive approach and teach teens the skills they need to be safer behind the wheel.
For nearly 10 hours, teens worked with officers to become safer drivers and one less statistic. With the turn of a key 18-year old Henry Bowen was ready to hit the road; however, this drive had a few more obstacles than what he's used to. He is a participant in The Conway Police Department's collision avoidance training class.
"My mom signed me up, but I figured I couldn't say no, and when I finally got here, I realized it was probably a pretty good idea," he said.
With three colleges and a very large public school system, Conway Police Chief A.J. Gary said the city of Conway has its fair share of teen drivers on the road.
"We have a lot of young drivers starting out and hitting the streets and the roads, so this is an opportunity for us to give them some tools that will keep them safe," he explained.
Chief Gary said the class teaches teens vehicle maintenance, avoiding distractions while driving and maneuvers to prevent accidents.
"Not only watching what you do on the road, but keeping your eye out for what other drivers are doing and how to avoid those things that may unexpectedly come up," he continued.
Henry believes he will be a better driver after the class.
"I think when I leave this class I'll be better prepared because of everything I know especially about other drivers," the teen said.
Accident reports show drivers between 16 and 19 years old have a fatal accident rate three times higher than drivers between 30 and 69 years old. Henry said the main contributor to those accidents is probably cell phones.
"It's so easy just to pull it out and send a quick text when you're at a stop light or when you feel like you shouldn't be paying as much attention, but really you should always have your guard up," he added.
Another important note for parents of teen drivers here in Arkansas: We face the highest premiums for insuring teens on the road with an average increase of 116 percent. That's double what drivers 25 and older pay for coverage.