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Teen drivers deal with inexperience, peer pressure

Posted June 9, 2011

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— Fayetteville Police Sgt. Eric Dow has seen many accidents involving teen drivers like Jack Britt High School sophomore Ronald Leith "Chino" Williams.

Williams, 16, took his older sister's car keys around 1 a.m. Sunday and went for a ride with his friend and neighbor, 15-year-old Mytrez Marsh.

Williams lost control while driving north along Lakewood Drive, near Middleton Court. His car ran off the right side of the road and flipped over. Police are still investigating the cause of the wreck.

Williams suffered critical injuries and died at the scene, police said. Marsh was treated at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and released. 

Dow said speed and inexperience behind the wheel, coupled with new-found freedom, can lead to trouble.

“Mom and Dad are not around. Teachers are not around. They’re able to go fast,” Dow said.

Dow said teen drivers often over-correct, swerving when they start to veer onto the shoulder of the road. 

Instead, Dow said they should take their foot off the gas, decrease speed and ease onto the highway.

Peppi Masa teaches a driving course at Fayetteville Technical Community College called “Alive At 25.” His students, as the name implies, are young.

“They see driving as a social activity,” Masa said.

Fayetteville Police Sgt. Eric Dow Teen drivers deal with inexperience, peer pressure

Masa said speed and alcohol are the main culprits in wrecks involving teens, leading him to encourage his students not to give in to peer pressure.

“The cool thing to say is, ‘I’m not going to let you get me in trouble. I’m not going to let you get me hurt and you hurt,’” Masa said.

He tries to instill in his students a respect for driving and life.

“I want you to be around for your wedding,” he said to the students.

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  • edith wharton Jun 14, 2011

    How good a driver a teen is really comes down to both maturity and experience. Our son was appalled that we would not let him take driver's ed (so he couldn't get his permit) until his grades were all A's and B's. The grades were all about him not keeping up with his work, a sign of immaturity, as we pointed out. He waited and was almost a year behind some of his friends in getting his license. I think it helped him. He didn't have wrecks and used at least enough sense to not get into trouble with the car. I think being almost 17 helped his decision-making immensely. We also made him drive us everywhere while he had his permit. They can never have too much road time under supervision!

  • btneast Jun 13, 2011

    However, Driver's Education in our state is a joke. It is not long enough, not serious enough and cannot prepare teens for what really happens on the road.

    It's as good as it can get really. How much can you put into a mind that thinks it knows more than you do anyway? The technical part of the driving is not the issue....it's the teen mindset of invulernerability, know everything, I need to impress my friends that no additional training is going to affect. Some of you mom's need to understand that most boys have this thing with fast cars and speed that is going to try to slip out. You need to be on top of it at all times....put the fear of God in him that you have eyes everywhere. Memories of what happened to these boys don't last long in a teens mind.

  • btneast Jun 13, 2011

    My son is 15 today and I am taking him to get his permit. I feel he is mature enough and is a very cautious driver.

    I was too when my Mother was around. The day I got my license,I dropped her off at the grocery store, and drove into the country and buried the speedometer....then came back and picked her up. It took a few years for me to realize just how short life is. Do NOT assume he will be as cautious when you are not around, especially when he he is surrounded by his buddies. Not to imply he is deceptive, but the allure of teen acceptance and male bravado is very, very strong.

  • nighttrain2010 Jun 10, 2011

    >>And very sobering lessons about what happens if you don't drive carefully.....videos, pictures and trips to EMT and Hostpital ER

    Of course. As long as the youths' parents pay for it and I don't have to, I have no problem with it. Although real life experience on a prepared track would be better

  • haggis basher Jun 10, 2011

    "Companies need to offer driving training skills a little more than what you get in drivers ed starting at 13 or 14. Then when a kid gets to 16 he'll know what to do in certain circumstances and also realize a vehicle can kill you if them if they can't handle it correctly"

    And very sobering lessons about what happens if you don't drive carefully.....videos, pictures and trips to EMT and Hostpital ER

  • randall0123a Jun 10, 2011

    take licenses from younger and older drivers - simple. we raised the drinking age. it's time to raise the driving age.

  • nighttrain2010 Jun 10, 2011

    >>Send them off to war to get killed at 18 and wait til 21 to get a license?

    Well of course!! Can't let these people think they have freedom can you? Have to fight for the State in foreign lands 'spreading democracy' first. Same reason the legal drinking age is 21. BTW, do a search sometime for the nations with 21 as the drinking age. We're in some 'fine' company with that one....

    Companies need to offer driving training skills a little more than what you get in drivers ed starting at 13 or 14. Then when a kid gets to 16 he'll know what to do in certain circumstances and also realize a vehicle can kill you if them if they can't handle it correctly

  • pirategal Jun 10, 2011

    My son is 15 today and I am taking him to get his permit. I feel he is mature enough and is a very cautious driver. He will have lots of opportunities in the coming year to practice his skills. However, Driver's Education in our state is a joke. It is not long enough, not serious enough and cannot prepare teens for what really happens on the road. If people want to rause the driving age to 21, then they should raise the age to enlist in the armed services to 21 too.

  • ambidextrous cat Jun 10, 2011

    ka0992:
    Even a student with a high GPA can become distracted or drink alcohol before driving. Ridiculous. High grades definitely do not always imply responsibility. Students who have to or decide to move out at 18 need transportation. My mother lost her own mother at the age of 16, I wonder how difficult it would have been for her to live on her own without a vehicle in the mountains? Try thinking of children who are not middle class.

  • ambidextrous cat Jun 10, 2011

    Why does a 16 year-old need a driver's license or a car in the first place? I got my first car when I was a junior in college. There are too many entitled children who believe that they have the right to drive just because their parents can buy them a new car. Until I got my car my parents drove me around, and they were glad to do it.

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