The six local teens who signed up for this week's driving class arrived Thursday afternoon at Land O'Lakes High School and were greeted with this message on the screen in the front of the room:
"You are more likely to be killed in an automobile crash than any other way."
The free two-day Teen Driver Challenge is a new state-funded program for 16- and 17-year-olds done by the Florida Sheriff's Association.
This area has had far more than its fair share of teen traffic fatalities of late:
Wesley Chapel High grad Tiffany Evans hit a school bus and died on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in September. Pine View Middle School student Krista Sellars was killed on U.S. 41 in January. Land O'Lakes High student Michelle Castle was killed near Crystal River in May.
In class, the students heard driving do's and don'ts and this advice:
"Wear your seat belt," Cpl. Julie Satre told them. "Your folks do not want that phone call."
By the numbers
1 Car wrecks are the leading cause of teen deaths in the country.
6 Number of teens taking the class at Land O'Lakes High School.
3 Florida's rank nationally in teen traffic fatalities.
60,000 Estimated number of teens killed in car wrecks from 1994 to 2003.