State police to notify parents about teens

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05/30/2007

State police to notify parents about teens
BY BOB KALINOWSKI , Times-Shamrock Writer

Your 16-year-old son or daughter gets a speeding ticket by a state trooper.

You own the car. You pay the insurance.

In the past, you may have never known about the infraction.

That’s changing.

State police at Wyoming will begin notifying parents of traffic violations committed by their 16- and 17-year-old children under a new program, “Project Note Home.”

“Our captain, Donald Peters, was concerned about young teen drivers being held accountable for their actions while behind the wheel,” said Trooper Martin Connors, spokesman for state police at Wyoming. “Teen drivers need to realize that it would be a lot better to have their driving privileges suspended by their parents than by the state.”

The newest enforcement program will take effect on roadways in the coverage area of Troop P, Wyoming, which has local barracks in Wyoming, Shickshinny and Tunkhannock. Barracks in Towanda, Bradford County and Laporte, Sullivan County, will also be involved. Station commanders will send letters to parents, describing the infraction of their teen son or daughter.

“A lot of times, the car and insurance is in the parents’ name. But there is no way of parents knowing their teen’s driving habits,” Connors said. “The first time a parent might have known their child received a citation is when they received a notice their insurance is going up and they don’t know why. This is another step we have to inform parents.”

Police say they are implementing the program because teen drivers are the most at risk to be involved in crashes, many times fatal ones.

“If it saves one life, it has accomplished its goal,” Connors said.

PennDOT safety officer Mike Cotter said that although his agency isn’t directly involved in the new program, he thinks it’s a good idea.

“I think it’s a great initiative. All you have to do is look at the fatalities in that age group. For 15 to 20 year olds, crashes are the highest killer,” Cotter said. “Young drivers exhibit all the risk behaviors that contribute to crashes because of lack of experience. If someone’s out speeding or breaking traffic rules, it alerts the parents.”

Seat belt infractions will be among the violations about which parents will be alerted. Cotter thinks this is vital because a large majority of teenagers who die on Pennsylvania roadways do not wear seat belts.

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