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Parents of some teens who violate traffic laws to be contacted

November 10, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Teenage motorists cited for violations may not be able to keep that speeding ticket a little secret anymore.

That will be the case if the teen finds himself breaking the laws of the road in the jurisdiction of Maryland State Police.

Last week, state police began contacting parents of teen drivers stopped for violations of provisional license status, "at fault" collisions or motor vehicle violations, including related to moving violations, and failure to use seat belts, a state police news release said.

The duty officer from the barrack responsible for the citation will attempt to contact the parent or guardian of the teen offender within 24 hours of an incident, according to the release. The release said the barrack commander will follow up by sending letters to any parent or guardian who cannot be reached within a day of the incident in question.

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Lt. Greg Johnston, of state police's Hagerstown barrack, said state police officials at the Pikesville, Md., headquarters ordered troopers to begin doing their part in the parental notification effort within the last week.

"We have specific instructions that when a trooper cites a youth, his supervisor will make the notification," Johnston said.

Johnston said he believe parents generally are unaware when their children "aren't driving responsibly." The new measure will change that in a hurry, Johnston said.

Johnston said state police officials wanted to implement the measure because of the frequency of serious and fatal crashes involving teen drivers.

In the news release, Col. Edward T. Norris cited motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among 16- to 20-year-olds. The release also said that 90 youths under the age of 18 died on state roadways in 2001 and 2002.

"Obviously, too many young teenagers are dying on the roadway - often it's because of driving error," Johnston said.

Johnston admitted that using the new measure is somewhat of a scare tactic, but one that will clue parents in to what their children are doing while operating cars. Johnston said it could cut down on tragedies in the long run.

"Hopefully with this, parents will help correct (their children's) driving behavior," he said.

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