Johnston County Urges Teens To Drive Safely

SMITHFIELD — Johnston County officials and school leaders kicked have off a teen driving safety campaign that encourages teens to talk with each other about the importance of buckling up, slowing down and being smart behind the wheel.

The Raleigh News and Observer reported the story.

The county has long had one of the highest numbers of teen auto fatalities in the state; 40 teens have died in car wrecks since 2005. Seat belts weren't used in 44 percent of those wrecks. The eight public high schools in Johnston County are all members of the NCHSAA.

County and school leaders have tried multiple initiatives in the last decade to get the safety message to stick with new drivers, but say they are confident this school year.

"I think it's pretty cool that the kids themselves have embraced it," said NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, who was the keynote speaker at the kickoff luncheon. "There's been so many deaths in this county from traffic fatalities for teenagers that this is an important thing."

Linda Carroll, who heads the county's teen driving committee, said she feels good about the peer-to-peer approach used in this year's safety campaign.

"What's going to make this work are teens – teens leading other teens in their school to make smarter decisions, to make it cool to drive with their seat belts on," Carroll said.

AAA Carolinas, one of the NCHSAA's major corporate sponsors, has devoted a great deal of energy and effort into encouraging driving safety for teenagers. AAA has been conducting a campaign against distracted driving, including talking on cell phones or texting.