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Growing Up Texas: Drivers' ed responds to modern technology
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The classroom setting and the student driving experience in drivers' ed remained much the same over the years, but the list of driving distractions discussed in class has definitely expanded in modern times.
Austin Driving School instructor Scott Blocker has been teaching for 26 years. As more and more people are using cell phones while driving, Blocker has had to teach his students more defensive driving skills, like reducing speed to allow more reaction time.
"It's very dangerous. It's because the driver takes their attention away from the road, and anytime you do that, things can happen in a split second that they're unable to react to," he said.
Austin Driving School instructor Charolette Touchton warns teens about the dangers of using phones while driving. She says distracted driving is a chapter they've had to revise over the years as new technology has come about, but that it's not just teens who need a wake-up call.
"Even us as a community, and adults, we need to be setting some examples. That's what our kids are dealing with. You're not just endangering yourself, you are endangering young people all the time. They've got a big enough challenge without us adults trying to run them over while we're talking on our phone," she said.
Teens like Michael Hermes get the message. He's still learning and says he can't imagine adding a cell phone to all of this.
"They're aware of the consequences they just think it's not going to happen to them," Michael said
Michael says he knows better, and plans to keep his phone off while he's driving… A choice long-time driving instructors hope both the new and old class of drivers decide to make.
The Austin Driving School offers drivers education courses throughout Central Texas. In Texas, cell phone use while driving is illegal for teenagers, and in Austin, texting while driving is illegal for drivers of all ages.