The CHP to host Start Smart teen driving class Tuesday

POSTED: 12:34 AM PDT Mar 19, 2013    UPDATED: 01:06 AM PDT Mar 19, 2013 
INDIO, Calif. -

California Highway Patrol Officer Joe Zagorski doesn't sugarcoat his presentation at the CHP's Start Smart teen driving class held every month at the Indio CHP office.

Zagorski uses tools like the graphic film “Red Asphalt” to drive home the point.

“I have pictures of local crashes here that show people who have died. I mean that's reality, that's the reality of driving a car. It’s a responsibility. It’s a huge responsibility,” he said

Due to recent crashes involving teens, an additional 2-hour-long class will be held Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the CHP office on Varner Road.

It's designed for teens, between 15 and 19 years old. You do not need to have a driver’s license to attend.

Statistics show one out of every ten teenagers is involved in a fatal traffic collision.

“A lot of what unfortunately causes so much death among teen occupants in vehicles is a lack of experience. They have just begun. They haven't really defined their multitasking ability that's required to drive a vehicle,” said Zagorski.

Parents are encouraged to attend the driving safety class with their children. Together they can learn about the best way to control a car and how defensive driving is key to avoiding problems on the road.

Claudia Luna, who hopes to get her drivers license later this month, sat through class with her mother. Claudia says she's noticed how some of her peers don't take driving seriously.

“I see them, obviously younger ages. I see they're kind of driving recklessly as well. In the past couple two, three months there have been some horrible accidents,” she said.

One of those accidents cost 18-year-old Victor Regalado, Jr. his life. The Shadow Hills High School student was thrown from a Jeep in the early morning hours on March 3, at Adams Avenue and Avenue 40 in Indio.

Regalado wasn't driving, but about 30 minutes before the crash he tweeted the words, “We drunk driving.”

Officer Zagorski says if any good can come from this tragedy, he hopes it helps teens realize driving is not a game.

“It doesn't take much to lose a life behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. It just takes one incident and that person is going to be gone. There's no coming back. There's no redo. There's no makeover,” he said.