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Mecklenburg County leads state in teens hurt, killed in traffic crashes

Mecklenburg County is, unfortunately, leading the state in the number of teen drivers and passengers who are hurt or killed in car accidents.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the North Carolina Highway Patrol is trying to reduce the numbers by making use of a defensive driving education program.

The program, BRAKES Incorporated, teaches teens how to drive defensively, informs them of the dangers of distracted driving, and also teaches them how to handle vehicles on wet roads and how to properly use anti-lock brakes.

BRAKES stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. The program was created in 2008 by drag racer Doug Herbert after his sons, 17 and 12, were killed in a traffic accident.

Last year, more than 1,200 teens went through the program created by the four-time world champion drag racer.

BRAKES has its work cut out for it: in 2010, 105 teenagers were killed on North Carolina streets.

"Our teenage crashes are going up," one state trooper told the Observer.

The Highway Patrol is raising funds to hold more BRAKES seminars in the state.

One parent said she drove her daughter three hours from the northern part of Georgia in order to attend the class.

The mother's biggest concern: distracted driving.

"...teenagers and cell phones scare me to death," she told the paper.

She's right to be concerned. With the widespread use of cell phones, MP3 players, GPS systems and other electronic gadgets, drivers are more distracted -- and more dangerous -- than ever. Studies show that distracted drivers can be even more dangerous to other motorists than drunken drivers.

Source: WSOC-TV: "Troopers Combat Spike In Teenage Crashes": Aug. 20, 2011

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