Local News

Program helps prevent serious teen driver crashes

Posted December 31, 2013
Updated January 2

— Crashes involving teen drivers often result in tragic consequences.

“We were leading the state in teenage fatalities on our highways,” Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said.

Doyle helped launch StreetSafe in 2010 to help prevent serious crashes involving teen drivers. Anyone under 21 who receives a traffic violation in Johnston County must attend the program, which involves learning behind the wheel with an instructor in the passenger seat.

“It allows them to encounter dangerous situations in a controlled setting,” Doyle said.

The program teaches teenagers about making good choices on the road.

“They’ll learn the importance of paying attention while they’re behind the wheel of a car and not getting distracted,” said Joe Fitzgerald, program assistant director.

Last year, 4,000 students went through the program across the state. The program currently operates in nine counties and will expand to 14 counties in March.

Fatal crashes involving drivers aged 16 to 19 in counties where StreetSafe operates have decreased by as much as 25 percent since the program started.

“This year we have gone down to one fatality,” Doyle said. “Certainly that’s one too many, but we have seen a significant decrease in our teenage fatalities.”

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  • TimeWillTell Jan 2, 9:40 a.m.

    Parents and teens should defintiely check out Street Survival classes (http://www.streetsurvival.org). Sponsored by Tire Rack and taught through BMW Car Club of America, these one-day schools are relatively inexpensive ($75) and are excellent behind-the-wheel experience for new drivers. Check the web site for dates and locations. Tires will get chewed up, but the return on investment is huge.

    While much more expensive, the teen car control courses taught at BMW's facility in Greer, SC is the gold standard for helping new drivers understand accident avoidance, emergency maneuvers, and handling dynamics (http://www.bmwusa.com/performancecenter#teenschool). It's worth every nickel of the $550 cost (and students are abusing BMW's cars, not their own). There is an adult version of the class, often taught concurrently with the teen school, with slightly different exercises, so parents and teens can learn at the same time. These classes are amazing and a lot of fun.