When Shannon Nicole Adkins was killed in a head-on collision with an alleged drunk driver Saturday night, she became the 27th teen to die in a crash in Johnston County, N.C., since the start of 2006, more than in any of the state’s other 99 counties. The county’s high teen death toll – and the highway deaths of more than 1,200 North Carolina drivers age 20 and younger between 1997 and 2006 – have prompted a statewide effort to improve high school driver’s education programs. The state medical examiner’s office asked a task force to study the programs and make recommendations to the state Legislature, reports USA Today.
The Johnston County Commission earlier this year formed a separate task force on teen-driver safety. Among the ideas being considered: a driver awareness program for teens, a video of young drivers demonstrating safe driving habits and rides with sheriff’s deputies. Traditional driver’s ed courses, which key on classroom work, are inadequate for the challenges faced by today’s young drivers, critics say. Many states have mandated more stringent requirements for drivers’ education, with the idea that there are far more cars on the road and distractions for young drivers today, including texting and cell phones, that didn’t exist 10 years ago.