2007 is a year many people would like to forget. Eleven teenagers lost their lives on Johnston County roadways that year, ranking Johnston as the number one county in the state in teen traffic deaths.
Fast forward to 2016. The numbers of fatalities are down, but much work still remains to be done. The Johnston County School system has worked for several years to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries in auto accidents involving teens. Several programs have been launched including the JoCo Teen Drivers, which encourages youth to talk with their peers about wearing seat belts, not texting, and driving the speed limit.
StreetSafe is now a mandatory defensive driving course for anyone under 21 who received a traffic violation.
New statistics released this week show that Johnston County now ranks 10th in the state in teen traffic accidents, with 1,176 crashes involving teenagers over the past 5 years (2011-2015). Johnston ranked 6th statewide in the number of teen deaths, 15, for the same period.
The new report said 53% of teens killed in crashes were male, 73% of those killed were the driver, 93% were single vehicle crashes, and 53% of those killed were not wearing a seat belt. 75% of all passengers killed were females.
Speed was a factor in 67% of the fatal accidents, 33% of the deaths occurred at night and 27% involved alcohol.
All 15 deaths, between 2011 and 2015, had two things in common every time. All the fatalities occurred on two-lane roads and everyone was lane-departure related.
The report recommended that parents should be very active in the learning and monitoring phases of their teens driving experience, while making sure their teen wears their seat belt, no matter how short the trip. Speeding and distractions are significant factors. And the more occupants a teen driver has in a car, the more likely they are to be involved in a collision.
Mecklenburg County leads the state in the most teen crashes over the last 5 years, and Wake County leads the state in the most teen traffic fatalities.