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Father reflects on son's death during 'Drive to Live' campaign

Posted April 10, 2012
Updated April 11, 2012

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— As a Johnston County man prepares to visit his son's grave on what would have been his 19th birthday, he said he hopes a North Carolina Highway Patrol teen driving initiative will prevent other parents from feeling his pain.

"You don't want to go to a graveyard and sing 'Happy Birthday' to your kid," Luther Peedin said Tuesday.

Peedin's son, Christopher "Hayden" Peedin, who would have turned 19 on Sunday, was killed last January in a wreck on his way North Johnston High School, where he was a senior. He lost control of his pickup truck, drove off the road into a ditch, flipped over and slammed into a tree. 

He was speeding and wasn't wearing a seat belt, authorities said.

"I would have given a million dollars for a state trooper to be behind my son to give him a ticket that day," Luther Peedin said.

A teenager is involved in a wreck every 23 minutes in North Carolina, said Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jorge Brewer.

"We're trying to curb the amount of teenage collisions and deaths," Brewer said. 

Troopers kicked off a special enforcement and education initiative this week called "Drive to Live."

They will enforce all traffic laws around schools and conduct traffic safety education programs at high schools before the end of the school year.

Luther Peedin Johnston dad hopes 'Drive to Live' campaign will save teen lives

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of deaths among teenagers in the country and in North Carolina, according to National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration data. By the miles driven, teens are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than adult drivers.


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  • donnyrt Apr 11, 2012

    I lost my Daughter in a car wreck in April 28, 2001, she was 20. The wreck was in MI,I would go to the to her grave site all the time. i know how u feel on birthdays, I moved to N.C. in 2004 her Birthday is coming up May 27th now i just look up at a star at night and say Happy Birthday sometimes i think it blinks at me and makes me smile.

  • hmbear32 Apr 11, 2012

    Many teens think they are invincible. That nothing bad can happen to them. "It happens to others, but it won't/can't happen to me" I don't even start my car without myself and any passengers putting on the seat belt. If my passengers have a problem with that, then they can just get out. It has saved my life more then once.

  • LocalYokel Apr 11, 2012

    I got excited when I read "They will enforce all traffic laws around schools..." but its only for one week then back to the lax enforcement of traffic laws.

  • Malaki Apr 11, 2012

    warbirdlover - So true. There is no reason that kids need to have high performance cars.

    And I also believe parents need to do a better job of teaching our kids to drive, plus we need to be aware of how we drive. Why should your child listen to you tell them not to speed, when you're the one going 80 in a 45?

  • warbirdlover Apr 11, 2012

    I also think part of the problems is parents buy their kids cars like Mustangs, Cameros, and other higher preformance cars, just so they look cool while driving. I was passed the otherday by a 16/17 year old female in a Mustang GT. She must have been doing 75-80 in a 45mph zone, weaving in and out of traffic. Just go by any High School and take a gander at the Students Parking lot. I worked and paid for my first car, but my folk would not let me buy the GTX I wanted, and made me buy a simpler safer car. I wound up with a Ford Maverick six banger.

  • btneast Apr 11, 2012

    Why just enforce the laws for one week? Traffic laws should be enforced every day.

    It's a public relations campaign to raise awareness, not the only week they enforce traffic laws.

  • farm Apr 11, 2012

    "exactly...the child more often than not mimics the behavior/example set by the guardian."

    Most of the time I guess. My father always wore his.(before it was law) I did not start wearing mine until after my head went through a windshield, had my head shaved, dozens of stitches and concussion. This was in the 80's. I was so lucky. You can bet I have always buckled since.

  • JJ20 Apr 11, 2012

    exactly...the child more often than not mimics the behavior/example set by the guardian.—jg01

    So true. My parents always wore their seat belts so me and my three siblings have never had an issue wearing ours. I can't say the same for various cousins who "trust us" not to get into an accident. I, just like my parents, don't leave the driveway if distant relatives in the car aren't wearing seat belts.

  • LocalYokel Apr 11, 2012

    Why just enforce the laws for one week? Traffic laws should be enforced every day.

  • loflinbecky Apr 11, 2012

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son. You and your family have my sincere and heartfelt sympathy. There is no pain as horrible as lossing a child. I know the pain from lossing my son - not in a car accident, but in a hospital that was suppose to correct a situation. My son was proactive in having the procedure done after a dr convinced him he needed it. My son died 14 days following the procedure.We have so many questions and no answers from anyone at the hospital or the dr. My life is totally upside down as I am sure yours is. I am glad you can tell your story about your son and try to help others. I wish you peace and comfort as you continue your life without him.
    Becky Loflin
    Marty Loflin's Mama