Sheriff's Road Block Targets Teen Drivers

The Harrison County Sheriff's department is targeting teens with a message about safe driving. Deputies set up road blocks outside two high schools Friday.

Statistics show young people are involved in far more serious car accidents than older drivers. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

But there's some evidence of increasing teen awareness about safe driving.

"How you doing? Do you have your drivers license and insurance. We're doing a safety check," said deputy David King, as he asked a teenage driver for the necessary papers.

D'Iberville High students faced a pop quiz Friday morning. Harrison County sheriff's deputies checked the teen drivers for safety's sake.

"How are you today? Driver's check point. Make sure you're wearing your seat belt and have your insurance. Have a good day and be careful," said King, as he ushered another young driver through the checkpoint.

The teens may have fussed about the inconvenience of a Friday road block. But even the sheriff found they passed the safety test with high marks.

"Ninety five percent of everybody who came through here today had their drivers license, their insurance and they were buckled up. They're getting the message. Awareness is up. We're announcing it in school. They knew we were going to be out here today. We didn't try to trick anybody. We just told them we were going to do it," said Harrison County Sheriff George Payne.

That same safety test greeted teenagers at Harrison Central High.

Targeting young people makes sense from a statistic standpoint. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers. In a comparison of drivers above and below age 21, drivers under 21 are two and a half times more likely to be killed in a car accident.

"Just trying to make the students aware they should always wear their seat belts," said school resource officer Shelly Ladner.

She says students are getting the message.

"I've been working in the high school for three years now and I know the students very well. As far as the courtesy citations we've written lately, it's not nearly as many as we have in the past," she said.

Deputies did hand out a few warning tickets or "courtesy citations".  Most were for failure to have proof of insurance.