Roanoke Driving Instructor Points Out Teen Challenges

Roanoke, VA - The tragic events that have shaken Bedford County over the past week are being felt far beyond that county's boundaries.

"We're all shocked and upset over that happening," said Gabe Saker who has been teaching Roanoke Valley teens how to drive for nearly 30 years.

Over that time, he has often had to invoke current events into his lesson plan.

"We talked about it in the classroom. Some of the students actually knew some of the students that were killed in the car crash. So it was a familiar impact," said Saker.

Saker says the biggest problem all teens face out on the roads these days is inattention. But another big problem is overcorrecting, which is how police say Ashley Barton, 17, lost her life.

Because of higher speeds on rural roads, it takes a lot less wheel action to correct a problem.

"A lot of kids are forgetting they are on a rural road and once the wheel goes off they are overcorrecting and crossing two lanes of traffic either hitting a head on with another collision or hitting a tree or stationary object which is just as deadly as another car," said Saker.

Saker is offering his own ideas on how long it takes for a teen driver to actually be good enough to drive on their own.

"Treat it like swimming. If your kid just learned how to swim you wouldn't let them dive into the ocean or off cliffs or in dangerous areas at first. You would let them take comfortable areas and desensitize them to everything. As they build up responsibility you give them more responsibility," said Saker.

Investigators say Barton lost control after swerving to miss a deer in the road.

Experts say that while you still could get killed by hitting that deer, your best chance for survival is to not swerve to avoid the animal but to hit it as you work to stop your vehicle.