Knoxville Receives Grant to Expand Driver’s Safety Program

Knoxville received $200,000 from the State of Tennessee Highway Safety Office in an attempt to improve driver’s safety programs.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —The Knoxville City Council will receive a $200,000 grant from the State of Tennessee Highway Safety Office to enhance community traffic safety education programs including teen driving, older drivers, Bike/Pedestrian Safety, Child Passenger Safety and Traffic Safety Education.

This class will target teen drivers to lower the number of crashes and fatalities for new drivers. There are no laws that require new drivers to take a driver’s education course, but this will help reach out to people of all ages to provide an opportunity to learn safe driving.

In Shelby, Davidson and Knox counties, the number of teen crashes since 2017 is significantly higher than in smaller counties in Tennessee.

In Knox County, there have been 5,458 crashes involving people aged 15-24 just in 2021 alone according to tntrafficsafety.org. This is a 15% increase in crashes from 2020. While Tennessee does not require new drivers to take a safety class, some surrounding states do. Virginia and Georgia require those younger than 17 to take a driver’s safety course to get a license.

“Driver’s education is associated with a lower incidence of both crashes and convictions — reducing crashes by 4.3 percent and convictions by nearly 40 percent,” said the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in a Sept. 9 news release.

A study conducted at The University of Nebraska at Lincoln took a deeper look at if driver’s education makes a difference in the amount crashes.

The study found that teen drivers in Nebraska who had taken a driver’s education course were involved in fewer crashes. 11.1% of the driver’s ed group were involved in crashes, as opposed to 12.9% of drivers who did not take a driver’s education course.

This is only one of 50 states, and it can vary from state to state. While those numbers may not seem like a big difference, they will certainly go up in the future as the new drivers who took driver’s education learn more on the road to avoid accidents.

The $200,000 grant the city of Knoxville will receive does not create driver’s education through high schools, but through out-of-school classes.

“This will be an out-of-school program,” said mayor Indya Kincannon. “It is something that KPD has been doing for years where you can take a driver safety course and go out on the KPD course. They wet it down and you can practice skidding and doing the wrong thing to see how that could mess you up. It is a continuation of an ongoing program.”

The Mayor of Knoxville believes in this program and encourages people, especially young drivers, to take driver’s safety courses to lower the number of crashes and fatalities in Knox County.

Some students who have taken a driver’s safety class say they feel the need to have a refresher course too.

“I need a refresher on things to remember to keep myself and others safe in the car,” said UT student Bridget Despard. “It has been five+ years since I took driver’s education, so I do not remember everything I learned during it.”

Some students say they do not remember all things from driver’s education classes. If students feel that they need to take it again, that might bring up another issue. Do you only have to take the class once, or should it be taken every few years to remind people of the rules and regulations of driving?

With the money the city is receiving, perhaps requirements for driver’s education classes will be the next step.

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