Sunday, May 2, 2004

Ideas for safer teen driving sought

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

MIDDLETOWN - Given the seriousness of the problem, attendance at a town hall meeting on teen driving wasn't as high as Butler County officials wanted.

"Generally people get enough passion for change when they get fed up with something," state Rep. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, said. Cates held the first of five meetings last week at Middletown High School. About 50 parents, teens and officials took part.

Cates wants to see more people at the second meeting, 7 p.m. Monday at Fairfield City Hall.

Cates and a panel of four other Butler County officials are asking parents and teens to suggest ways to stop the rash of teen fatalities.

Two Middletown students were among 12 people killed in 11 teen-driving accidents since mid-February in Greater Cincinnati. Friday, Talawanda High School lost its third student this school year.

John Stanley, of Stanley's Drivers Training Inc., attended.

"In talking with the young drivers, they tell me their biggest fear is getting their license taken away from them," he said. "If the teens knew that going in, I think they would change the way they drive."

Others asked the panel about limiting the number of passengers with a teen driver. Some suggested a curfew while others called for more parental involvement.

All good ideas, Cates said, but some could be tough to enforce.

Some students say they already are getting the message. Brandon Horner, a senior at Middletown High School, has lost six friends to car accidents. "If I'm in a car with one of my friends and I see that they're going fast I tell them to slow down or take me home."

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