Local News

Program lets parents find out about teens' driving

Posted February 20, 2010 3:10 p.m. EST
Updated February 20, 2010 7:03 p.m. EST

— Two Wake County moms have started a program to curb a dangerous trend tracked by the state Highway Patrol: A teen is involved in a wreck every 23 minutes in North Carolina.

The parents of Jared Morris, a 17-year-old junior at Raleigh Charter High, have enrolled him in the Teen Road Angel program, which was launched in November.

Morris said that every time he gets behind the wheel, he's driven by one simple rule of the road: "I try not to be stupid when I'm driving, because I don't want to get into an accident."

If he forgets that rule, though, his parents have a back-up policy. On his car is a decal with a phone number for other drivers to report any risky driving behavior, such as texting or speeding.

"It's not a tattle-tale program. It's more of a preventative measure," said Teen Road Angel co-founder Sherrie Holland, of Apex.

Holland and co-founder Nancy Anderson, of Raleigh, said they got the idea when during a road trip last summer, they were nearly run off the road by a car full of teenagers. The mothers of teenage boys themselves, they wished they had a way to tell those teenagers' parents how their children were driving.

The "How's My Driving?" stickers for commercial vehicles inspired them, they said.

Parents who register their children in Teen Road Angel get a parent-teen driving contract and a sticker for their teen's car. A $40 annual fee covers the cost of the decals and monitoring the toll-free number and Web site.

"We are hoping that because teens have this on their vehicles that they are making better decisions when they're driving, because they know they can be reported," Anderson said.

Drivers can call the toll-free number on the sticker or make an anonymous complaint online. Parents get the report via email, text or voicemail within 30 minutes.

The group has about 35 members and has received one report of speeding so far. The co-founders recently made a presentation before the Wake County Mayors Association.

"The association enthusiastically supports Teen Road Angels and looks forward to helping them in this endeavor," said Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, who is president of the Mayors Association.

Holland said she hope to take program nationwide one day.

"Risky teen driving affects us all and our children and people that are involved in accidents, and that's really what we want to prevent," Holland said.

Morris said he thinks the program faces the challenge of changing teens' view of their parents knowing about the behavior.

"There's a preconceived notion that it's not cool. They don't want their parents knowing about it," he said. "But I think the coolest thing is knowing you're saving lives."