Local News

Highway Patrol focuses on teen-driving safety

Posted May 3, 2010 3:14 p.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2010 1:08 p.m. EDT

— State troopers will focus on teen drivers over the next two weeks, beginning Monday, as part of an operation to reduce the number of traffic collisions and deaths among the group.

As part of Operation Drive to Live 2010, troopers will be enforcing traffic laws around schools and will be conducting traffic-safety education programs at high schools, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said Monday.

The Highway Patrol that traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among teens in the state and the nation.

In the past four years, 682 teenagers have been killed in wrecks that the Highway Patrol investigated. Some of those wrecks happened while teens were going to and leaving school.

Four teens in central and eastern North Carolina lost their lives in wrecks in just the last week.

Michael Turner, Jr., 17, a student at Southern Nash High School, died Saturday after his car was struck by an SUV. Authorities said he had run a stop sign.

Jesse Ferrell, 16, a sophomore at South Johnston High School, died following a wreck that happened Wednesday while he was on his way to school. He was trying to pass two vehicles when he lost control of his truck, authorities said.

And Hoke County High School seniors Kaleb Valliant and Thadius Markle, both 18, died April 25 following a wreck in Fayetteville. Authorities said Vallian failed to stop at a stop sign and was hit by another car. Markle was a passenger.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, 56 percent of fatal crashes occur on rural roads and speed remains the leading cause of those deaths.

“Our goal is to educate teenage drivers on the dangers of driving irresponsibly,” Highway Patrol Commander Col. Randy Glover said in a news release Monday. “The Highway Patrol is committed to saving teenage lives on our highways and we will continue to look at various avenues to address this issue.”