Deaths prompt 'start over' on seatbelt education

Jesse Ferrell

April 29, 2010 3:11:38 PM PDT
Authorities in Johnston County pledge to start over in their push to get teens to buckle up after yet another death.

Jesse Ferrell, 16, died in a crash near South Johnston High School. Sixteen-year-old Jordan Stikeleather was hurt. Investigators say neither was wearing a seatbelt.

Since 2006, nearly 30 Johnston County teens have died in car wrecks. The county started a new driver education program in 2008. Alive at 25 is a defensive driving program that was created to combat the problem of teen deaths due to vehicle crashes.

Authorities hope this latest accident is a wakeup call for teens. Some parents say the accident was a shock for students.

"They went to school together ever since the third grade. My son is very distraught. He's very upset about it. He's not driving right now, he's 17. He wants his license but I think he's going to try to wait a little bit. It scared him a little bit," said parent Jennifer Johnson.

As students left campus Thursday, ABC11 saw that nearly everyone was wearing a seatbelt as they drove away. The Highway Patrol says it hopes this is the start of a new attitude and it's questioning past education efforts.

"I don't think it's a failure, but anytime that we lose a child, that's one child to many. So, we're going to look at this. We're going to re-examine and go forward on this and hopefully we won't have this type of situation again," said Sgt. Jeff Gordon.

For more information on Alive at 25 and how to register, click here.

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