Authorities in Holmes County are looking for any edge they can find to reverse an alarming trend.
A new study shows Holmes County has the highest teen traffic crash death rate in the state, with 14.8 deaths for every 1,000 teen related crashes. These high death rates are typical for Florida's rural counties.
Carlan Martin teaches driver’s ed at Marianna High School. Before a student gets behind the wheel he gets them familiar with the damage a car can do.
Carlan says, “Thirty five miles per hour don't seem that fast for a lot of kids. You know, there's a lot of people that get killed going that fast, so that's one of the big responsibilities. Driving is one of the big steps in a young person's life. That's probably the gate way to maturity."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teenage drivers are more than twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
Lt. Jerry Maddux with the Florida Highway Patrol says, “Mostly it's peer pressure, distraction, and you know immaturity, lack of experience."
Law enforcement officials say parents should be aware of who their kids are on the road with.
"If you have a bunch of rowdy friends or immature friends, then you may want to keep an eye on them, your kids when they're driving, and at least limit their interaction with those when they're behind the wheel."
Research has shown that teenage drivers in rural counties tend to have more accidents. Carlan Martin says that it's not just because students have to travel longer distances to school.
“I think you generally sometimes have a tendency to want to take chances because you feel like there's not very many other people on the road, but there's a lot of other variables on the road, here in Jackson County, of having a deer run out in front of you.”
Teen driver safety tips:
- adult supervision
- minimize other teen passengers
- limit nighttime driving
- practice "over steering" recovery
- select safe vehicle models
Here are some recommendations to keep your teenage driver safer: first, have an adult ride with 16-year-old drivers. Also, don't let teens drive with other teens as passengers. Limit driving after dark. Have them practice safely recovering control of the vehicle, when they steer off the edge of the road. Don't allow them to drive top-heavy SUVs.