Troopers’ effort aims to save young lives

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As the school year winds down and prom season approaches, the N.C. Highway Patrol is taking a pro-active approach to try to keep teen drivers safe on the state’s roadways.

Troopers have been conducting traffic safety education programs in schools and stepping up patrols in school zones across the state this week in an effort to impress young motorists with the importance of driving safety.

According to the Highway Patrol, troopers responded to more than 47,013 motor vehicle collisions involving drivers and passengers between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2013. Of those collisions, 86 resulted in one or more fatalities. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reports that young drivers are substantially over represented in fatal crashes, with teenagers involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in both the United States and North Carolina. Along with inexperience, teen drivers are more subject to “distracted driving,” which entails anything from texting to talking to friends in the car to not paying attention for an instant – and in that instant, tragedy can strike.

Every parent knows the feeling of fear and discomfort that arises from watching their 16- or 17-year-old son or daughter drive away from home, well aware of the dangers that could await them on the road.

Parents also know that teenagers feel the indestructibility that accompanies the strength and vitality of youth. Every mother or father has worried that instead of seeing their child finally come home late one night, they might instead be greeted at their front door by a law enforcement officer bringing unbearable, tragic news.

Along with parents stressing the importance of driving safety, the Highway Patrol’s education and enforcement efforts can help to reduce the number of teenagers killed and injured on our roadways.