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The Wheel Thing: Teaching teens to avoid tragedy on the road

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No, your other right! Most parents would probably welcome some help when it comes to teaching teenage drivers.

Auto accidents are the No. 1 killer of teenagers. But new programs seek to better prepare teens for the challenges of driving.

Last weekend, five teenagers were killed in a fiery crash in Irvine.  It was a grim reminder that auto accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for young people.

Ironically, most schools no longer offer driver's education courses.  Private firms help kids meet the requirements to pass their driver's license tests, but often do little to teach them techniques that help avoid accidents.

Car critic Susan Carpenter says some groups have stepped in to fill the gap.  The Automobile Club of Southern California offers a variety of programs for teen drivers, and even suggests models of cars that are suitable for youngsters.

Some car companies are getting into the action, according to Carpenter.  BMW and Mercedes have set up driving schools, and have special programs for teens.  BMW has announced they're building a new facility outside Palm Springs that will feature a track and skid pad where drivers are confronted with real-life situations, and are taught techniques for avoiding disaster.

Carpenter is the auto and motorcycle critic for the Orange County Register, and appears on Take Two each Thursday in our regular feature, The Wheel Thing.

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