Teen driving deaths up 12% this year in NC; pandemic a contributing factor, officials say

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The number of teens who have died in car crashes is up 12% this year, according to the North Carolina State Department of Transportation. 

“This year in North Carolina, we’ve lost 144 teen drivers, ” said 1st Sgt. Chris Knox of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

When the pandemic started and people were forced to stay home, streets and highways were nearly empty. 

Knox said those empty roads paved the way for more people to speed, especially new drivers.

“It’s a combination of a lot of bad factors at one time,” Knox said. “You couple that with these young drivers that don’t have the needed skills yet, it’s kind of a perfect storm of bad things that can happen and it showed up in our statistics this year.”

Over the weekend, NCSHP partnered with an organization called Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe to change the course of those statistics.

The group provides free defensive driving courses to teens. 

“The main purpose of this school number one is to keep more teens alive,” said Larry Dixon, a driving instructor for the organization known as B.R.A.K.E.S.

Locally, 144 teens participated in the free driving courses. They were paired with instructors to learn about panic breaking, how to avoid crashes, and techniques on how to regain control of their car if it goes off the road.

“What we’re trying to do is have them be taught by professionals to make them more comfortable behind the wheel and be able to react to certain situations that absolutely at some point in time, are gonna happen to them,” said Dixon. 

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