In an effort to reduce the number of teenager-related accidents across the state, the North Carolina Highway Patrol is continuing to conduct Operation “Drive to Live” this week.
The operation will be conducted from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day as an initiative by the Highway Patrol to reduce the number of teenage-related traffic collisions and deaths.
“Throughout the state, North Carolina has experienced teenagers being involved in serious collisions and also fatalities,” said First Sgt. Timothy Daniels of the local Highway Patrol. “That’s one of our forefront issues — combating the teenage situation and taking enforcement action when needed so that we’re able to prevent tragedies an teenager from becoming a statistic.”
According to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, troopers will be enforcing all traffic laws around the state’s school and conducting education programs at the high school prior to the school year ending.
“The Highway Patrol remains committed to saving the lives of our teenage drivers,” said Colonel Bill Grey, commander of the State Highway Patrol. “This will be accomplished through education and if needed, enforcement.”
The campaign is scheduled to last one week, but troopers will be active throughout the year. Locally, Daniels said troopers are sent to local schools during the morning and afternoon hours to monitor school zones and combat any issues.
“We try to educate the students when we see the potential to do that,” Daniels said.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, young drivers are significantly over represented in fatal crashes, particularly 16 and 17 years old. One area that is particularly concerning is distracted driving. A news release from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety states that the youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 10 percent of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20.
In 2014, the Highway Patrol investigated more than 48,711 motor vehicle collisions involving drivers and passengers who were between the ages of 15 to 19 years old. Of those collisions, 9,153 injuries and 113 fatalities were reported.
“One is always too many,” Daniels said. “It’s always a concern and it’ll continue to be a concern until we have zero incidents with teenagers and driving.
Along with teens, Daniels said it’s a priority for the department to make sure everyone is safe on the roadways.
“If they ever see a need or something they need to bring to our attention, we’ll try to take appropriate action that we see fit for the situation,” Daniels said. “We’re out there in the county and we’re going to try to enforce not only teen laws, but any other laws and we’re going to do it aggressively. Sometimes it may not be taking enforcement action, maybe just a moment to educate somebody.”