LEHI — The Utah Highway Patrol is working to teach teen drivers crash avoidance skills at its Teen Driving Challenge classes. The classes are held Saturdays in April and May.

“Driver’s education typically teaches teen drivers the basics of how to drive,” said Sgt. Greg Holley, who teaches the courses. “We try to take it to the next level and move toward teaching them accident avoidance. We want to make them safer drivers."

Although they only represent only 8 percent of licensed drivers in Utah, teen drivers were in 20 percent of motor vehicle crashes in the state in 2011, according to the UHP. There are approximately 40,000 new drivers in Utah each year, with the majority of those being teens, making for a steady stream of inexperienced drivers. At the UHP’s Teen Driving Challenge, students get hands-on experience with advanced skills.

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The students drive semi-retired police cars on the Police Officer Standards and Training Emergency Vehicle Operations Course in Lehi. “We teach the students principles, so the type of vehicle they’re driving doesn’t matter,” said Holley. “If you need to swerve to avoid a hazard in a Geo, you need to do the same things that you’d do in a Suburban. It’s these principles that will help them when they’re out on the road.”

Class dates and the schools scheduled to attend are April 20, Price High School; May 4, North Sevier High; May 11, classes for schools in Davis and Utah counties.