NC driving program aims to lower young adult deaths from crashes

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of young adults ages 16-24.

"It's difficult," says Larry Cox, former crash investigator with the Durham Police Department.

Cox retired from the Department after 18 years last week. "As a father, I can't fathom losing a child. It's a pain that no one should ever have to endure."

Cox is now is the Lead Coordinator for Durham County StreetSafe.

StreetSafe is a teen driving program formed in 2000 in Wilmington in an effort to curb deaths for young adults. Since its formation, the program has expanded to 17 different teams through 37 counties throughout the state.

"In every county that we have StreetSafe, we've seen a reduction in crashes. We've seen a reduction in deaths," Cox said.

Here's how it works -- participants arrive and are split into two groups.

The first group learns inside, the second group drives. Halfway through, the groups switch.

Kids drive distracted and on wet roads. "We want them to get that experience, to see what that feels like."

An instructor, who works during the week as an emergency responder, (police officer, firefighter, EMT, etc.) rides with the students.

"If a student actually panics, or loses control, all of our instructors are trained. There's an instructor brake in each of our vehicles."

"I explain to the kids - we let you do things in our cars that your mother would not let you do in her sedan," Cox said.

Parents: You can sign your child up for the life saving program for a reduced cost. The organizers prefer that drivers have some experience -- be it with a learner's permit or with limited driving privileges.

StreetSafe also offers classes in Spanish.
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