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Encourage young drivers to be careful

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

To the editor: For 30 years, I worked with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and retired as a lieutenant in charge of major crimes.

I have been on hundreds of crime scenes and consider myself immune to images that are not for the faint of heart.

Since retiring from the sheriff’s department, I now work as an investigator for the Brunswick County District Attorney’s Office and as a deputy coroner.

Recently, my work as a deputy coroner has reminded me I am not yet over the tragedy of a young life cut short behind the wheel of a car. Within the last month, I have had to make three death notifications to the parents of young drivers who died on our highways in Brunswick County.

Only a few days ago, a beautiful 21-year-old girl lost her life at a rural stop sign when she pulled out in front of an oncoming truck. I wished with every fiber of my body I could have gone back in time and personally warned her and others to use more caution. I would have started with reminding her of the need to wear a seat belt.

My heart goes out to her family and to the driver of the truck.

That night, I called my 24-year-old daughter, who is a first-year law student at Central University. I reminded her to

wear her seat belt, take her time on the road, look out for other drivers, and when at intersections to take that extra long look.

Knowing my young daughter to be so independent, I could tell by her voice, “Here we go again.” Yet, deep down, she probably heard the urgency in Dad’s tone and realized it was not a lecture but a call from the heart. Either way, I will always continue to be a reminder to her.

How about you? Will you take the time to look a young driver in the eye and make them listen (for that brief second) when you tell them to be careful? If it’s important to you, then it is your duty to make it important to them.

As a 15-year instructor of law enforcement driver training, I offer the following suggestions:

Please take time to explain hazards of road conditions, bad weather driving, radios and cell phones. Stress caution and an extra look at intersections and passing of other vehicles. Set rules about others allowed in the car with a young driver and with a reminder of no horseplay due to consequences. Emphasize the hazard of speed and that alcohol use is absolutely not permitted.

Keep vigilant with your young driver about defensive driving which has to be the attitude that every other driver on

the road is likely to create a hazard for them, unless they see it coming.

Please consider sharing this information with a young driver. It is my hope the application of these principles will spare us all the anguish of having a deputy coroner knock on your door.