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Polis Report

Crash Party

By Traci Hukill

Software, schmoftware. Good driving-instruction schools just might be the entrepreneurial way to get ahead if the "Youthquake Ahead" report on California's teen population is any indication.

All right, maybe that's an exaggeration. But according to the study recently released by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the number of 15- to 19-year-olds will soar 33.5 percent in the next 10 years. That's a mind-boggling 765,000 more kids than the 2 million or so currently at risk of totalling the family wagon.

True to the stereotype, teenagers are high-risk drivers, involved in many more collisions than drivers in other age groups and far likelier to die in those accidents. One national study suggests that 16-year-old drivers are 21 times more likely to die in an auto crash than drivers between the ages of 30 and 50.

Add alcohol and the scenario worsens: About a third of auto-related teen deaths involve alcohol. "Youthquake Ahead" forecasts that in the year 2007, 15- to 17-year-old tipplers will cause 476 crashes in California.

And that, the report reminds readers, will cost taxpayers millions in medical care, property damage, lost productivity and funeral expenses.

Someone always mentions the bottom line.

So we will too. The "Youthquake Ahead" report calculates the number of drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 will be roughly 618,000 by the year 2007. Driver education and driver training at driving schools runs anywhere from $200 to $275--$250 for the sake of argument--resulting in a grand total of $154 million dollars (not allowing for inflation) to be made from teaching teenagers how to drive and not get in wrecks.

That's a major growth industry, not to mention work with purpose.

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From the Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 1997 issue of Metro.

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