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Teen Traffic Deaths in Florida

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

There is one county in Florida that has not had a fatal crash involving a teenager in almost two years. Parents are hoping other counties can follow its lead.

Greg was killed on a Saturday night. Paul Burris’ life changed forever when his only child lost control of his SUV and died in a car crash just hours after his 17th birthday. That’s why Burris is angry that while the national rate of teen deaths has gone down, Florida’s has gone up.

Paul Burris, father, says, “I just look at it and say, oh, those poor parents, but thank God it wasn’t my child. Teenage crashes are preventable. We know they are preventable.”

Burris’ grief motivated him to spend the last dozen years working with police and local businesses to bring down the deadly statistics. The efforts are paying off. Leon County used to average almost 20 teen deaths a year. For the past two years Leon County has not had a single teen traffic fatality.

Police credit programs like a contest that awards the high school with the best improvement in seat belt use $1,000.

One of the mistakes parents make is thinking they’re the best person to teach their child to drive. That’s not always the case. Your child may just pick up your own bad driving habits, so get a professional instructor.

Burris says the biggest contributor to teen crashes is not speeding or alcohol, it’s inexperience, so make sure your teen gets lots of practice and lay down the law if your child doesn’t follow the rules.

Paul adds, “If we never make another stand with our child, this is it. It’s got to be driving. There’s probably nothing more dangerous.”

It’s a lesson no parent should have to learn the hard way.


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