The following is a press release from the campaign of Ben Akselrod, who is challenging Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Ben Akselrod, a candidate for Assembly in the 45th district, has called on State Department of Education Commissioner, Dr. John B. King, Jr., to provide mandatory defensive driving training to all high school students throughout their high school careers.

“Auto accidents are the number one cause of death for young people,” Akselrod explained. “Now, with the popularity of cell phones, and especially texting, adding to the likelihood of distracted driving, combined with speed and a general belief of teens that they are immortal, New York State must become proactive in encouraging safe driving practices.”

In a letter to Commissioner King, Akselrod requested that the New York State Education Department develop a curriculum, covering all four years of high school, that not only teaches students safe driving techniques and accident avoidance skills, but makes them aware of the serious consequences of dangerous driving behavior. It could be offered as a mini-course within in the existing course structure of the school.

A 2012 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study reported that the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over.

“A curriculum must be developed that will be offered to students before and after they are likely to take their road tests making them vividly aware of the consequences of dangerous driving habits and empowering them with safe driving techniques,” Akselrod stated.

“While this curriculum needs to be implemented expeditiously to counter the threat of texting while driving, the subjects covered must also include other safe driving and accident avoidance information,” Akselrod said. “We need to instill good driving habits and skills in our young people that will continue on into adulthood.”

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