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Tickets aim to improve teen driving

Drivers usually aren’t fans of getting tickets from police officers. Now some eighth-grade Northwestern Middle School students will start handing out the tickets.

In the U.S., seven teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die every day due to injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So “Ticket Your Parents” is a pilot program by Ohio’s chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions that aims to help teens pay more attention to safety before the get behind the wheel. Northwestern’s eighth-grade class is one of only three statewide participating.

About 60 students were given a ticket pad to “cite” parents who don’t follow Ohio driving laws. A letter explains to parents the week-long exercise is meant to make them more aware of their own bad habits while making teens more cognizant of what not to do once they get their own driver’s license.

Parents heavily influence the habits of their children, Ohio SADD director and Northwestern board member Rick Birt said.

“They’re looking for texting and driving, using their cell phones. They’re looking at buckling up. They’re looking at when they stop and start — running those red lights that we are so tempted to do,” Birt said.

As a routine passenger, student Ariel Shaffer said she notices a lot of things drivers shouldn’t do.

“I don’t like … seeing people on their phones and texting because it makes me nervous,” she said. “It upsets me because there are so many people who get in car crashes and I know it’s one of the most fatal things for teens.”

Student Daniel Shoffner said he thinks his parents are pretty good drivers but admitted he’s told his mother not to text and drive.

“It makes me a little nervous but I usually warn her about it,” he said. “I depend on other people because I can’t drive.”

At the end of the project, students will enjoy a pizza party and the results will be tallied and discussed in class. They will also be analyzed by SADD and used for future programming, Birt said.

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