Underage Drivers A Common Occurrence In East Texas - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/17/05 - Cushing

Underage Drivers A Common Occurrence In East Texas

by Stuart Burson

When we're out driving, many of us probably assume our fellow drivers on the road are at least sixteen years old. But it may surprise you to learn some people behind the wheel are a lot younger.

The way of life in a small town like Cushing is often a little different than in your larger cities. In rural Texas, it's not that uncommon to find young kids already driving. Some of them, not even teenagers yet.

Terry Batson says she started learning to drive when she was eleven. So it's not unusual for her to let her fourteen year old son drive from time to time.

"Well, I trust him, and they need the experience of driving, and a lot of times like I said you just trust them, because you've been in the vehicle with them, many times, and then you feel like they can drive, and they ask, so sure, you stay off the main highway, you take these little back roads, and hopefully everything will be fine." says Terry.

But Monday night here on a side street in Cushing, 14 year old Jesse was behind the wheel of a pickup, with some friends riding in the bed. The truck hit a small pot hole, which sent 16 year old Cecil Smith tumbling out of the bed.

"Even though you've told them don't pick up people, or just go where you're told to go and come right back... things still happen from time to time, and this happened to be one of those times."

Luckily, Cecil is expected to recover. In fact, Terry says he's expected to go home from the hospital Wednesday.

So, is Terry going to let her son drive anytime soon?

"No... No. Not unless we're out in the woods... out in the pasture. No, and he says he doesn't want to drive. He's pretty worried about that."

Terry's mother is the one who let Jesse take the truck out Monday. And she's the one that now has the ticket for allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a vehicle.

"This town's not crawling with cops, you're kinda out, you're not in Nacogdoches itself, and that's just what we do here, and we get caught from time to time." says Terry.

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