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Johnston County, North Carolina, Holds Teen Driver Safety Forum

Posted on May 17, 2016
The North Carolina Herald reported today that Johnson County, North Carolina held a teen driver safety forum to discuss young adult driving concerns and address recent teen car crash deaths in the area.  Among those present at the Smithfield, North Carolina, meeting was Christy Baker, a mother who lost her 21-year-old son Brandon and his 17-year-old friend Matthew Stewart in a car crash in September. Baker spoke about starting a Teen Control class in the area which would educate both kids and their parents about driving safety. The fee for the class would be small but significant: $169 for a parent-child pair.

"That is three tanks of gas to save your child's life," Baker said to a crowd of 200 people. "Is it worth it? If I could have done it, yes. I would have paid $169 instead of paying what I had to today. I tremble as I stand before you tonight because I never want to see another parent go through what I have gone through."

Baker's classes would focus on hands-on activities that would teach drivers about distractions such as music and cell phones. It would also prepare students to react in dangerous situation - what to do if their car runs off the road or if traffic is bad.  Baker also stated that she wanted to work toward provisional licenses for teens as well as driving curfews between 8 PM and 4 AM.

"An average soccer player has 1,500 practice hours with a coach before getting on that field," Baker said. "We allow our kids 30-50 hours to get out on the streets. It's a war zone out there. We've got to change it. My mission is to reduce teen fatalities by 50 percent in two years."  The forum was put together by County Commissioners Cookie Pope and Tony Braswell, who both are working toward reducing the number of teen fatalities in North Carolina.  The NC Department of Transportation reported that there have been 33 teen fatalities in Johnson County alone this year - the third highest rate in the state. Most of the accidents were due to speeding, while only 6 percent involved alcohol.  

Randall E. Appleton
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