STOPPED program opens eyes to dangers of teens and distracted driving

STOPPED program opens eyes to dangers of teens and distracted driving

NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Operation "Drive to Live" kicked off Monday morning at 6 a.m. in an effort to reduce the number of teenage related traffic collisions and deaths.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol will continue this initiative throughout the week, in correlation with the beginning of prom season.

In 2015, the Highway Patrol investigated over 58,812 motor vehicle collisions involving drivers and passengers who were between the ages of 15 – 19. Of those collisions, 10,501 injuries were reported and 107 resulted in one or more fatalities.

"Ensuring safe travel for motorist across North Carolina is our primary mission," said Colonel Bill Grey, commander of the State Highway Patrol.  "The focus of this campaign will not end this week but continue as troopers attempt to reduce the number of collisions involving teenage drivers."

High school junior Kyndra Reed says the threat of distracted driving is very real. One of her classmates was involved in a serious wreck after texting.

"It hits home for all of us," Reed said. "I've even been in the car with friends and told them I can take the phone and text for them."

The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office has a pro-active program to get parents involved, called STOPPED. The acronym stands for Sheriff's Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers.

"It would appear to almost be obsolete with all the high tech apps out there to promote safer driving," Sheriff John Ingram said. "We just want parents and teens to know it only takes a split second for someone to make a decision that could end someone's life."

Parents can sign up for the STOPPED program by registering with the sheriff's office. They will get a red stop sign sticker with a number to put int he back of the car. The parents are notified if there's a traffic problem or violation with a minor behind the wheel.

"With that in the back window - if it meant the consequences would be different, it would definitely give you the incentive to be more careful," said 17-year-old Emily Winn.

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