Teenagers in Texas who are getting their driver's license will find that they must take a new Impact Texas Teen Drivers program (ITTD) offered by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The program requires license applicants to complete a teen driver education course that includes several videos shown over a two-hour period that provide information concerning the dangers of distracted driving.
The Corsicana Daily Sun quoted TDPS Director Steven McGraw on the value of educating drivers-to-be on basic safety:
"Driving is one of the most dangerous things teens do on a daily basis, and it should command their undivided attention. This new component of teen driver education underscores the risks of distracted driving, and is designed to provide young and inexperienced drivers with additional information and skills to help keep them and others safe on the road."
Starting on September 1, 2015, all teen driver education course participants, along with all teens who take Parent Taught Driver Education, are required to complete the ITTD program and obtain the ITTD completion certificate. After driver education classes are completed, and after all behind-the-wheel instruction has been done, the ITTD program is the final step before taking the driving skills exam.
KFOX14-TV reports that the new process will also include individuals ages 18 to 24.
"The Impact Texas Teen Drivers is a program where they have to watch a series of modules to inform our teens about distracted driving, since distracted driving is the leading cause of death for teens," said Sun City Driver's Education instructor Shauna Mendoza.
TDPS recorded over 4,700 teen deaths on Texas roads annually, most of which were caused by distracted driving. Mendoza added that every eight minutes an accident related to distractions while driving occurs. One Texas teen, Ariana Vargas, who had already received her driver's license, said she wishes she had been a part of this program before she began driving.
"It would have opened my mind to being more careful and not being on my phone while driving," Vargas said.
TDPS also posted a list of frequently asked questions concerning the ITTD on its website. It reiterated that the ITTD is a separate requirement from the 32 classroom hours of Driver Education required and behind-the-wheel instruction. The certificate is received after taking the ITTD program and will need to be presented before the driving test will be administered. The certificate must be dated within 90 days of the driving test.
Although the certificate is not dated for expiration, it is only valid for 90 days. If during those 90 days an applicant does not pass the driving skills examination, he or she will have to restart the ITTD program. The ITTD videos are broken up into eight modules that can be viewed independently. Each module must be completely viewed before an applicant can move on to the next video.
The certificate showing completion of the program is then emailed to the applicant's email address. He or she may log into the ITTD website at any time to retrieve and print the course certificate. The certificate must be printed and the paper copy submitted to the driver license office or the Third Party Skills Testing (TPST) school.
There is no charge for taking the ITTD program.