CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — From October 16, 2022 to October 22, 2022 National Teen Driver Safety Week gives parents and guardians the perfect opportunity to talk with teens about safe driving habits.

This year, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to encourage parents to discuss safe driving habits with their teens.

“Teaching our young drivers about safe driving is vitally important to make sure they’re as safe as can be when traveling on our roads.” said Governor Jim Justice.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 to 18 years old here in the United States.

Parents are responsible in helping their teen drivers make smart choices while driving on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave parents and guardians tips on how to talk about safer driving.

59News was able to speak with Kostadinka “Kay” Papeskov, the Owner and Instructor at The Road, a New Together Driving School in Martinsburg, WV about her experience teaching young drivers. She shared her insight on some important driving tips that should be shared to teens from parents and guardians about safe driving.

Impaired Driving:

“Unfortunately, the teens are modeling adult behavior, so it has to start from the top down,” said Papeskov. And when it comes to impaired driving, the biggest problem is the fact that your reaction time is slower. And that’s where the crashes come into play, and as well as the fact that most people don’t know how to drive so when they do drive impaired that exasperates, you know, the fact that they’re not good drivers to begin with.”

Seat Belt Safety:

“When it comes to a seat belt is an absolute must. Not only in the front, but in the back as well because if the person behind you does not have the seat belt if, let’s say, you crash into somebody, they will add to the impact on you because they’re going to fly towards your seat and they’re going to crush you. Everybody in the car has to wear the seat belt and also if you just simply read, you know those warning labels. The airbags are designed to keep you safe with a properly worn seat belt, so if you’re not properly wearing your seat belt, the airbag can kill you,” said Papeskov passionately.

Distracted Driving:

“This is something that a lot of the times we jump on the big things, eating, drinking, texting, smoking, or just hands on something, you know? Handheld phones, however, even the simplest thing is pressing a button to open a window makes your eyes stop moving. And when your eyes stop moving, they’re not giving you the information you need on time and your reaction time is very slow. So, when it comes to distracted driving it so it’s very easy to for us to just sit there and shake our finger and say don’t do this and don’t do that…So I do something with my students. I call it the chip challenge. So, they’re supposed to sit in the passenger seat whenever their parents are driving and take a chip and eat the chip only. When they think it is safe for their parents to do so, for example, my rule of thumb is I don’t do anything extra in the car regardless of what it is, unless it’s safe for me to pass.” said Papeskov with a concerned tone.

Speed Limits:

When it came to this topic, Papeskov shared, “So when it comes to the speed, first of all, most new drivers are not qualified to go the speed limit yet, and there’s a reason why it takes time for their eyes to learn what to look for. And also their brain on how to process the information that their eyes are giving it. So when they go too fast for their skill level, they develop tunnel vision. And this is true for you and I as well. When I go to places that I’m not familiar with, it would be stupid for me to go the speed limit because I am not familiar with that area and my brain takes longer to process that brand new information that I’m not used to.”

Passengers:

“Until driving becomes habitual, new drivers really should not have any passengers at all in their vehicle…So one of the things that parents need to be involved in in my program, I’ve developed my own curriculum and my own way of teaching, which works amazing. What I always recommend, uh, when my students start my classes, is to have a classroom with a parent present. And in the classroom, I give them exercises to do while my student is still a passenger so they can teach their eyes and their brain how to process all that information. One of the most critical things that any parent that loves their child should do immediately is as soon as the child is able to sit in the front seat. There should be no electronics, no cell phones. They should be turned off…As soon as they sit in that front seat, they need to pretend that they’re driving…and to start applying those rules before they even get behind the wheel,” concluded Papeskov.

For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov or call 304-926-2509.