Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Forum focuses on teen driving

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - The turnout wasn't strong, but the discussion was.

West Chester - 7:15 p.m. Monday at Township Hall, 9100 Centre Pointe Drive.
Hamilton - 7:30 p.m. May 17 at Hamilton High School, 1165 Eaton Ave.
Oxford - To be announced
"In terms of quantity it was less than desired, but the quality was excellent," said state Rep. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, after Monday night's town meeting on teen driving. "I think the people here gave us a lot of good solutions to look at."

Forty people - local officials, parents and one teenager - met at Fairfield City Hall to discuss ways to stop the rash of fatal accidents involving teen drivers around Greater Cincinnati. Butler County has been especially hard-hit this school year, and Cates plans at least three more meetings on the topic in the county. The first meeting was last week at Middletown High School.

Kevin Branick, 17, of Dayton, Ohio, the only teenager in attendance, would like to see more of his peers at the meetings.

"It seems so easy to fix. It seems like it's just so simple if you just go learn about it," Branick said. "I know most of the kids don't think it affects them."

While some residents called for changes in driver education programs, others asked for tougher punishments for teens' driving violations.

Marc Comisar, whose 17-year-old daughter Kenzie died almost two years ago in a car accident, said the problem is not always poor decision-making, but a lack of experience.

Comisar said teens need to be trained better, and driver education programs need to be updated to fit into today's traffic-clogged world.

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