MHP’s D.R.I.V.E. campaign aims to curb teen driving deaths

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Due to an increase in teen driving fatalities during 2020 across the state, the Mississippi Highway Patrol is implementing the D.R.I.V.E. safety campaign — Driving Requires Initiative Values and Education.

In 2020, 70 teenagers died in traffic crashes on Mississippi roadways, compared to 49 in 2019.

Mississippi consistently ranks in the top five states regarding teen driving fatalities, according to crash analysis information. To help combat this, MHP will take the D.R.I.V.E. campaign to schools, community colleges, universities, churches and civic organizations.

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“Every Mississippian should be concerned about the number of teenagers who are losing their lives on our highways and roadways,” said MHP Director Col. Randy Ginn. “We have to sense the urgency to educate our youth on safe, smart and responsible driving habits. The D.R.I.V.E. campaign will do just that. Changing driving habits will change these numbers.”

Commissioner Sean Tindell said parents can also contribute to the safe driving habits of their teens.

“Parental involvement shouldn’t end when a teen receives their license. Parents are encouraged to talk to their teens about the importance of safe driving. Set your teen driver up for success by giving them rules and boundaries,” Tindell said.

With COVID-19 still presenting challenges, MHP has had to plan differently for the dissemination of its safety message.

“We will work with educators, community leaders, first responders and parents regarding the safest ways to present the program,” said MHP Public Affairs Director Maj. Johnny Poulos. “Receiving a driver’s license brings a sense of accomplishment and freedom to teenagers while bringing worry and concern to some parents. We want our teenagers to enjoy this milestone in their lives, but at the same time they have to understand the responsibilities and possible consequences that come with driving.”

The D.R.I.V.E. campaign will incorporate computer presentations, guest speakers and seatbelt rollover simulators when possible. Main topics will include driving distractions, impaired driving, seatbelt usage and driving with teen passengers.