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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As our youth learn to get behind the wheel, their safety and protection is of critical importance. The California Highway Patrol (CHP), with the support of the grant-funded Start Smart Teen Driver Safety Education Program XV, today launched new Start Smart classes. These classes coincide with National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs October 16-22. Drivers between 15 and 19 years of age are at greater risk of being involved in fatal crashes. The Start Smart program is designed to help teens learn how to avoid distractions and address the dangers typically encountered by drivers in their age group.According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there are nearly 792,970 licensed teenage drivers in California, which increased by 6 percent since last year. Data from the CHP's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System indicated that in 2020 there were 6,644 fatal and injury crashes involving teen drivers between 15 to 19 years of age. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.Start Smart is a free class aimed at helping teenage drivers become aware of the responsibilities that accompany the privilege of being a licensed California driver. Parents or guardians are required to attend with their teenage driver as they participate in thistwo-hour Start Smart class, completion of which may lower the cost of a young driver's vehicle insurance. The class is being offered at CHP Area offices throughout the State."The Start Smart program exists to save young lives as they move into their journey behind the wheel," said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray.Parents and teenagers can register for a Start Smart class by contacting their local CHP Area office. More information about Start Smart and California's provisional licensing law is available on the free CHP Start Smart mobile app. This mobile app includes access to the California Driver Handbook and a trip logger to track driving time as teens prepare to obtain their driver license.Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.