Teen's death prompts education, enforcement

May 3, 2010 8:17:20 PM PDT
On Monday, the North Carolina Highway Patrol kicked off a two week program in Johnston County called "Operation Drive to Live." It comes on the heels of yet another fatal crash in the county.Last week, 16-year-old Jesse Ferrell flipped his pick-up truck less than two miles from South Johnston High School.

Since then, the High Patrol has announced they are renewing a two week education and enforcement effort at the Johnston County high school.

In the last five years, 33 teens have died on county roads. Only Wake County, with five times the population, had more fatal accidents.

In urban counties like Wake and Mecklenburg counties, fewer than one out of every 100 teen wrecks have been fatal. In Johnston County, there's been one death for every 47 crashes.

The trend has baffled law enforcement and educators across Johnston County. One answer may be Johnston County's rural roads that are simply less forgiving.

Some teens say they don't see a lot of police on the open roads.

"I just don't see the enforcement like in Garner and Raleigh that they usually do around here," Clayton High student Matt Russell said.

And a county commissioner, who lost his son 18 years ago, agrees there's limited enforcement.

Johnston County parents and residents say they are hoping for sharper education to get the message out to teens.

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