Teen’s fatal car accident prompts mom to create driver’s ed course

The risk of a vehicular crash is higher for 16- to 19-year-olds than any other age group, and teen drivers are almost three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers 20 or older, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

To help combat that, Adam’s Place for Grief, 601 S. Rancho Drive, Suite 19, has initiated classes to help teach young drivers to be safe behind the wheel.

Adam’s Best Driving School is offered through a partnership with Academic Coaching Services and Nevada Driving Schools. It encompasses 30 hours of classroom instruction coupled with six hours of behind-the-wheel time.

Kelly Thomas Boyers, founder and acting director of Adam’s Place, recalled how her son’s fatal rollover accident led to establishing the nonprofit.

“He was 21 at the time, a very, very good driver and he wasn’t belted at the time,” she said. “The other young man in the car was belted and walked away from the accident with just a scratch. They swerved to miss a pedestrian, and they rolled.”

Thomas Boyers had lobbied to make driving without a seat belt a primary offense but was unsuccessful. That, combined with the Clark County School District cutting driver education from its curriculum, led her to set up the driving school. It came to fruition last year and has had 28 participants to date.

An Adam’s Place fifth annual community fundraiser is set for 5-8 p.m. April 16 at Land Rover Las Vegas, 5255 W. Sahara Ave. Activities are set to include a wine tasting, gourmet food samples and a silent auction that includes a Land Rover LR2. Tickets and sponsorships are available at adamsplaceforgrieflasvegas.org.

The 30-hour driver’s education class is conducted in the classroom and teaches Nevada traffic laws; common mistakes made by teens; driving in adverse conditions; learning the top driving errors teens should be aware of; sharing the road; vehicle control; and understanding different types of roadways.

“A class like that should not be taught online,” Thomas Boyers said. “You need that interaction with a coach, that one-on-one interaction. …Statistically, male behavior changes a bit up to age 35 to be more, ‘I’m master of all things, I’m invincible,’ and they take more chances. We’re seeing girls start to mimic that. That’s not a trend we want to see.”

She said the instructor, Zack Sanderson, a Clark County School District teacher, is in his mid-20s and able to relate to the teens.

Classes are limited to 12 participants. Sessions include how deadly cellphones can be when driving. An Automobile Association of America study released last month analyzed 1,700 teen accidents, captured on video, and concluded that distraction is a factor in 58 percent of moderate-to-severe teen accidents. That’s four times the government’s estimate of 14 percent. The report said cellphones are so distracting that half of the rear-end collisions had teens still driving at full speed.

“I talk about lead time — looking ahead to make sure they’re prepared for anything,” said Eloisa Perez, president of Nevada Driving Schools. “Places here are open 24 hours every day of the week, so some of the techniques I show them are scan and search so they’re able to identify a situation — if a car is going to pull out, if a pedestrian is about to step out because they don’t know the city — so we talk about what could possibly happen and what you’re going to do (in reaction). … Just because a light turned green does not always mean go. You can control what you do, but you cannot control what other people do.”

The class is being offered for $100. For more information, call 702-339-0848 or visit adamsplaceforgrieflasvegas.org.

To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email jhogan@viewnews.com or call 702-387-2949.

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