Teenagers have always received criticism for their driving. The old saying that every teenage driver has heard, "You just don't have enough experience," seems to be the excuse for not getting the car for that Friday night date-of-your-dreams. Just how true is it?

The drivers education program offered at nearly every high school in Utah is supposed to prepare a 15-year-old for the world of driving. There are two ways to take drivers education: take it for a mere two weeks in the summer, or take it for a semester in school.The summer drivers education program is quite a whirlwind experience. The required class time is 30 hours, and it's divided into classes that are three hours a day for 10 days, and then the required driving time is met after the morning classes. One would think that the precious 30 hours in class would be spent going over important laws of the road and handling emergency situations on the road. Instead, classes are filled with gruesome movies of people who were killed because they weren't wearing their seat belts or because they ran into the side of a train.

The other part of class is spent in "The Simulator." I don't know what the simulator is supposed to simulate, but it isn't driving. There is a movie screen in front of a group of model cars. The screen plays a movie that resembles driving down a street at different times of the day, when something unexpected happens like a car swerves out into your blind spot!

Every student in the room panics while the movie screen projects what a calm, experienced driver would do in that situation. The screen never corresponds to what the student is doing to his car. If you happened to swerve left instead of right, a small, orange light clicks on to tell you that you've made a mistake, but it never identifies the mistake.

No wonder students get into car accidents shortly after a drivers education course. The excuse, "Mom, I didn't see an orange light turn on," is all a student needs to say after swerving into another car.

The on-road driving experience can be one of the most treacherous and humiliating experiences a student can have. You get thrown into a car with three fellow students and your driving instructor. As you go on your way, there are three buckled-up, terrified students in the back praying you won't slam into an oncoming train while the driving instructor is barking orders at you.

Driving instructors, however, do help a lot of students learn to drive, and the new law that was passed saying student drivers must be accompanied by a parent for the first six months is a good idea. Teenage drivers need all the experience they get.

After this little glimpse into the life of a drivers ed student, the next time you see a pale-faced, terrified driver accidentally cut you off, maybe instead of honking and swearing under your breath, you can think, "Hey, they're doing the best they can."

Sheena McFarland is a student at Viewmont High School.