Local News

Some Teens Familiar With N.C. Graduated License Program

Posted April 16, 2004

— Statistics show teen drivers account for 7 percent of the driving population, but they are involved in 14 percent of all fatal crashes. The high fatality rate is linked to teens having a tendency to take risks. That is why North Carolina is among 41 states issuing graduated licenses to teens.

Like other teens her age, 16-year-old Caitlin Pardue is working to get her graduated driver's license. It will limit her drive time and the amount of passengers who can ride with her.

"I'll be able to go places I need to without my parents going everywhere," Caitlin said.

Two teenagers

died Monday in a wreck

on Highway 64 in Cary. Katherine Hart, 16, who was the driver of one of the cars in the accident, survived and is charged with violating her graduated license.

Statistics suggest the more passengers in a car driven by a 16- or 17-year-old North Carolina teen, the higher the crash risk. Officials said the risk is the highest with two additional passengers.

"If they're talking and chatting, they just get distracted and they can't react quickly," said Stacy Pardue, Caitlin's mother.

Driving instructor Thomas Hunter said teens tend to mimic their siblings' and parents' driving habits. He said it is his job to reprogram their thinking and driving skills.

"You got to be patient. You got to take this seriously because a lot of times, you're not allowed to have that second mistake," he said.

Under the state's graduated license program, teens must drive with a parent for the first six months. The next six months, only one nonfamily member is allowed in the car. Also, teens can drive only between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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