By NICOLE LARSON
The Utah Highway Safety Office said 8,600 crashes were reported for 1995, 823 of which happened in December.
Wenty Bertola, marketing coordinator for The Utah Safety Council, said too many accidents and too many fatalities are happening.
In an effort to reduce these numbers, the council is offering two four-hour defensive driving courses for drivers in the Provo/Orem area. Both courses instruct drivers on accident prevention, driving confidence, awareness of hazards and improving overall driving skills. But the different classes are directed at two different age groups with different experience levels.
“Live at 25” teaches 16 to 24-year-old drivers how to make responsible driving decisions. Bertola said that “this class offers behavior to more inexperienced drivers.”
She said the council wants to introduce a change of attitude for young drivers. Bertola said drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 represent 22 percent of all drivers and 40 percent of all accidents.
The other class offered, “Basic Defensive Driving” for drivers 25 years and older, is a lecture on driving tactics.
Besides becoming a better driver, other incentives are available. Drivers who enroll in either course will qualify for a 50-point reduction from their Utah driving record.
This could possibly erase speeding-ticket points. A 21-year-old driver ticketed for driving 10 miles over the speed limit could be charged with at least 55 points against their driving record. Because minors are only allowed 70 points on their record before their license is suspended, this could be a valuable benefit.
The maximum for adult drivers is 200 points within a three year period before a suspension is enforced.
Drivers 55 years or older who complete the course may qualify for insurance discounts.
Bertola said most insurance companies offer some kind of discount. Glen Pack, an insurance agent for Allstate Insurance Company, said they offer a 5 percent discount for main coverage over a three-year period. To receive the discount, Pack said drivers need to provide a copy of their completion certificate. He said after three years, drivers can re-take the course to renew the discount for the next three years.
Bertola said these classes are offered because every year too many accidents happen with too many fatalities. She said they don’t like to refer to them as accidents, but rather as crashes, because every accident can be avoided.
Statistics indicated that the majority of 1995 accidents occured during December and can most likely be related to winter weather conditions. Regardless of the season, Bertola suggests every vehicle carry a driving kit.
She said every driver should carry a first aid kit, a warm blanket and clothing, a flash light with extra batteries and flares or a reflecting triangle to let people know where you are. She also suggested jumper cables and a sand bag or a piece of carpet to help drivers get out of being stuck in the snow.