Fatal Crashes Teach Teens Serious Lesson About Driving

"All right. Let me have your license," driving instructor John Pugh told Chelsea Wells as she walked up to a car.

The high school sophomore just got her driver's license last week. She is taking a driver's education class at Biloxi High School to enhance her skills.

"Turn on your signal," Pugh said as Wells got behind the wheel.

But the lessons have taken on a more serious tone lately, with the deaths of 18 young people in South Mississippi.

"I've known about five or six people that have been in those accidents," said Chelsea Wells. "And it just makes me more cautious about the way I drive."

"Watch out for this car," Pugh warned Wells. "He's coming from the right. He's going kind of fast."

"We use lessons like that," said Pugh. "We actually cut out things in the newspaper and we talk to the students about them when they happen."

"Go ahead and buckle your seatbelts," Pugh told his students.

To get a sense of the risks on the road, the young, inexperienced drivers use a simulator and face all sorts of dangerous scenarios.

"Predict that a car or person will emerge from hidden areas," the announcer said on the video.

Jeremy Jones knows about the hazards first hand. He lost his grandmother, cousin, and five friends in recent car crashes.

"I've only been in one accident," said Jeremy Jones. "I don't want to be in any more."

"I pay more attention in class," said sophomore Austin Patano. "I try to do the lessons that we do because they do teach things I haven't learned. I use the things I learn in the classroom out on the road, and make me a more defensive driver."

The fatalities serve as a wake-up call for Chelsea Wells. She no longer feels invincible.

Chelsea said, "It feels different. I'm a little bit more nervous to drive by myself. I never expected something to happen that fast. So now stuff is put into more perspective and I think about everything that I do and the consequences that come with it."

Students who pass the driver's ed class get a card that makes them eligible for discounts on their insurance. But more importantly, they leave with lessons that could save their life.