CHP emphasizes safe teen driving

By From page A16 | October 21, 2011

For officers with the Placerville area California Highway Patrol, stressing the importance of safe driving is the name of the game.

But with National Teen Driver and National School Bus Safety weeks scheduled for this coming week, officers are hoping El Dorado County motorists will show a renewed focus on driver’s safety.

The National Teen Driver Safety week began Monday and continues through Saturday. Established by Congress in 2007, it is observed annually in October to raise national awareness on teen driver safety issues.

“Inexperience combined with speed, a lack of seat belt compliance, distractions, alcohol or any other risk-taking behavior can have deadly results behind the wheel,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow in a written statement. “Unlike a video game, you aren’t given multiple lives and there isn’t a reset button. Our goal is to arm California’s youth with enough knowledge to make smart driving decisions.”

In recent weeks, local CHP officers have cracked down on unsafe teen driving, said officer Dan Stark.

Combined with free, educational programs like Start Smart, Impact Teen Drivers and Every 15 Minutes, Stark said the office is so far pleased with its campaign.

“We’ve seen a lot of responsiveness from the community,” he told the Mountain Democrat.

Since stepping up its enforcement of safe driving among the teenage demographic, Stark said officers have received a helping hand from the community.

“It feels like we’re not fighting this by ourselves,” he said. “We have the schools involved, we have the parents involved. Now we just have to¬†continue¬†to work at it and see the benefits of our work.”

From Tuesday through Friday, Stark is hopeful motorists will observe National School Bus Safety week.

“It’s just trying to bring awareness to the issues of school bus safety,” he said.

Considered an often overlooked aspect of driver’s safety, Stark said the week is especially important not just for motorists but for students who rely on public transportation.

“The fact is that we always have to be careful around kids when you’re loading and unloading on a school bus,” he said. “Especially with small children because they’re so hard to see.”

Stark said drivers should remember to drive cautiously around school buses, as children could unexpectedly dart out from behind the vehicle.

“If you are at a two-way road and the bus has its stop sign up, you must stop regardless of which lane you’re in,” said Stark.

Jim Ratajczak

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