Keeping teen drivers safe: The major rules driving instructors are trying to reinforce

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio-- At the 9-1-1 Driving School in Rocky River, instructors who are current and former police officers, try to mold the minds of young drivers.

Unfortunately, the lessons learned from fatal accidents like a crash on Tuesday afternoon that claimed the lives of recent Chardon High School graduates Dominic Ricci and Jackson Condon, have become part of the curriculum.

Veteran driving instructor Bob Adamich told Fox 8, "If you don't watch, this is what can happen. You know, I've told the students in every class, your life can change in an instant. We're all planning to go home at the end of our drive or at the end of our class, but you don't know if it's going to happen."

The parents of young students are also using the circumstances surrounding the tragic accidents as teaching moments.

"That it actually happens, that you are not invincible; you have to pay attention," said Tiffany Barzacchini, whose daughter is a student at the driving school. Barzacchini added, “I'm a real advocate of she may be a good driver, but you definitely have to pay attention to everything going on around you. There are other people not obeying the rules; you have to pay attention."

In a number of the fatal crashes like the one in Chardon, investigators say the young, inexperienced drivers failed to yield at a stop sign, and instructors say that is a prime example of the tragic consequences of distracted driving.

Bob Adamich experienced it first-hand while riding with a student earlier this week. "We're driving down the street and there's a stop sign and he didn't see it, so I had to put my brake on and go 'what were you looking at?' He goes 'not that.'" He said, “so this could have happened in that instance. If you're not watching, you don't know what's happening,"

One of the major rules of the road that instructors are trying to reinforce is the Ohio law that limits the number of non-family passengers that teen drivers can have in their vehicle to no more than one.

Police investigating a fatal accident on Wednesday night in Strongsville that claimed the life of 16-year-old Kailee Mayher, say a 16-year-old girl behind the wheel had five teenage passengers, including four in the back seat, when she lost control and slammed into a tree.

Instructors say with each additional passenger the chances of a teen driver being involved in a fatal accident goes up exponentially. "You get multiple people in the car, you get the radio blaring, you have text messages, cell phones," said Adamich. "They're in there doing all sorts of things. They can be talking, three, four, five different conversations going on in that car, and if you're not paying attention to what's happening out there, you're going to be involved in a collision."