Local News

Teen drivers deal with inexperience, peer pressure

Posted June 9, 2011 6:03 p.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2011 7:36 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.