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Some accidents avoidable if drivers take more care

LIME ROCK — This has been a bad year for fatal motor vehicle crashes. Two particularly tragic incidents have occured in just the past few weeks; both involved teen drivers.

In cases such as these, the tragic element often overshadows the more mechanical side of the accident, according to Bob Green, a retired race car driver. A Lime Rock resident and former teacher at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, he is the founder of Survive the Drive, a program designed to teach driving skills to teens.

“If I had my druthers, we’d teach automotive driving with as much training as airplane pilots get,” Green said. “And drivers would have to be retested periodically, just like pilots.”

Most young drivers in Connecticut take drivers education, but those courses are mainly geared toward helping the students pass the license exam and proficiency test.

“And to be proficient, all you have to be able to do is drive the car around the block,” Green said.

Driving has become increasingly complex, with cars that perform at a higher level and with more electronic devices clamoring for the driver’s attention.

The causes of the two recent fatalities were not related to cell phone use. One was caused by a teen passing a car on the left as that car was making a left turn. Neither the driver nor his passenger had on a seatbelt. The driver was killed.

In another incident, in North Canaan, two teen drivers were involved but both were wearing seatbelts. The father of one of the boys died in the crash; he was not wearing a seatbelt. It is also believed that an unsecured toolbox hit him in the head during the crash.

There is no way to make driving a completely risk-free activity.

“Anytime a car is moving, it’s dangerous, and people don’t recognize that,” Green said.

“Car crashes are the leading cause of violent injury and death in this country,” he explained.

“There are 6 million crashes a year reported in this country, 2.5 million people make it to the emergency room and the fatality rate is 40,000 a year.”

One important thing for drivers to keep in mind, Green said, is that “car crashes happen unexpectedly.

“Training can help but it can’t eliminate the hazards.”

Having said that, however, Survive the Drive offers tips to help keep drivers safe.

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