CHP hosts Start Smart Program for teen drivers

CHP hosts Start Smart Program for teen drivers

Last night the South Sacramento CHP office hosted their Smart Start Program for teen drivers. The program gives information to teens on the dangers and seriousness of driving an automobile.

The program is made possible by grant through the California Office of Traffic Safety. South Sacramento CHP Public Information Officer Jim Young led the program.

Teens from area high schools along with their parent (that is optional) attended the program. I attended along with my two teen sons. After a brief introduction, Officer Young gave a run down of what we would be doing. He warned that we would watch videos that were very graphic.

We started off watching Red Asphalt. This is a video that has been used and updated since the late 1980’s. It shows graphic scenes from car accidents involving teens. The video we watched was from the mid 2000’s and also featured an accident that involved a Laguna Creek High School teen, Nick Davis. Davis was driving too fast for road conditions and crashed his car into a tree. The force of the accident bent the car into a U around the driver’s door.

The Red Asphalt video is on You Tube. Warning, many of the scenes are very graphic. Body parts are visible. Dead bodies are shown.

Many teen drivers, especially teen boys, feel they are invincible and that “it won’t happen to them”. The video shows it does happen to them all to often and with tragic consequences. The video shows the parents and family talking about their deceased children afterwards.

The second video we watched was from a CHP office in the Santa Ana area. The video dealt with the aftermath of a single accident that took the lives of 5 teens.

16 year old Bradley Morales was an unlicensed driver. He was driving a BMW. Morales had gone to Knotts Berry Farm with friends that night, and as they were leaving two other people asked for a ride. 6 people were in the car. The car was found at the top of an embankment near an overpass. It was first believe the car had somehow left the roadway at the overpass and landed below.

After investigating the accident, the CHP reported the vehicle was on the freeway traveling in excess of 110 mph when it could not take a curve in the roadway, drove through a guardrail and hurtled end over end up the embankment where it finally came to rest, catching fire. Morales was the only survivor.

Officer Young pointed out all the things Morales did wrong that night. He was unlicensed and in fact didn’t even have a permit to drive. He was a teen driving between 11 pm and 5 am, also prohibited. He had other teens in the car. More passengers than there were seatbelts. Driving at excessive speeds. Morales was tried as a teen sentenced to stay in juvenile prison until he turns 21. He will serve 3 years, but has to live with the death of 5 people he knew.

The program concluded with a slide show presentation by Officer Young. He discusses some important areas of teen driving and gave some sobering statistics.
*Traffic collisions are the leading cause of deaths for teens 16-19
*4000 teens per year are killed. That works out to 11 every day.
* Half of the deaths are due to distracted driving
*60% of all teens killed were not wearing seat belts.

AAA has a website devoted to teen drivers with more information and things to discuss with your teen. There is a parent/teen driving agreement,  that lists the responsibilities of each party and teens agree not to engage in dangerous behaviors.

At the conclusion of the Smart Start Program, teens were given a certificate of completion. Some insurance companies may offer discounts for teens that complete the program.

As a parent, I was glad I took my teens. I think it’s good for them to see what the consequences are. It’s reality. It’s not just them. It’s us as parents, family, friends and the community that must deal with the loss and devastation when a teen dies in any situation, much less one that is avoidable.

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