Patrol promotes safe driving

Published 12:55 am Thursday, August 25, 2011

Area schools are starting another school year, with hundreds of students traveling to and from school and school-related activities during the morning and evening rush hours.

This happens to be the busiest time for a teenager to be driving on North Carolina’s 78,000 miles of roadways. Research has shown that teenage drivers lack the experience of seasoned drivers and are more likely to be distracted while operating a motor vehicle. Given this information, it is not surprising that traffic collisions continue to be the leading cause of teenage deaths in North Carolina.

The Highway Patrol is dedicated to reducing the number of collisions affecting teen drivers. It will coordinate with school administrators to offer assistance in the area of highway safety by conducting safety presentations at their schools.

The presentations could include the dangers of texting while driving and driving while impaired. Other presentations could focus on distracted driving, impairing substances, drowsy driving and other topics related to teen driving.

Troopers will patrol school zones and routes frequented by commuting students. Aggressive enforcement will target speeders, reckless driving, noncompliance with seat-belt laws and distracted drivers using cellphones. School-bus stops and school functions that draw heavy traffic volume also will be monitored.

During the first few weeks of school, troopers will be at various schools disseminating educational material promoting proper child restraint and seat-belt use in an effort to gain compliance with these laws. Each year children die or are injured in traffic crashes because of the lack of or improper restraint use. Troopers also may visit local driver’s-education classes to give a law-enforcement officer’s perspective on safe driving habits.

School officials and other organizations are encouraged to contact the Highway Patrol for information on programs for parents of teen and preteen drivers that help them understand teen driving issues such as graduated driver’s licenses, causes of teen crashes and tips that can make a teen a better driver.

All motorists are reminded that speed limits are reduced in school zones during morning and afternoon hours, and they are encouraged to use extra caution when traveling through these areas. Upon meeting or following school buses, be prepared for them to stop, and drivers should obey the stop arm. Never attempt to “beat” the stop arm and attempt a hazardous passing maneuver.