Mom wants teen drivers to behave on Graham Hill Road

Dear Street Smarts, Q: My name is Leah Rephan. I am writing due to my growing concern about the safety of drivers on Graham Hill Road. This is not regarding the recent construction by any means. My main concern -- and in talking with others have learned this is not just my own -- is the frequency of dangerous driving on this road. I say this because on three separate occasions, I have nearly been run completely off the road. And have witnessed others nearly loosing control trying to avoid erratic drivers as well. Each time, I have had my 10-month-old son in the vehicle with me. And each time this has happened, it has been a young teenage driver, with multiple people in the vehicle with them. ‘Sixty three percent of teenage passenger deaths in 2008 occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. Among deaths of passengers of all ages, 19 percent occurred when a teenager was driving,’ according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. I am deeply concerned for the well-being of others on this road, including these teenage drivers. ‘16-year-olds are three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average of all drivers,’ the organization reported. I fear that without regular patrol of this stretch of road, there can be some serious accidents. Please help in my effort to put out the word that there needs to be more CHP officers assigned to patrol this stretch of road. Thank you, Leah Rephan via email A: The CHP is out there in more ways that one trying to improve road safety and increase teen driver awareness of safe driving practices, said officer Sarah Jackson, spokesperson for the office's Aptos location. "All students at San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley high schools participated in an educational assembly earlier this school year from 'Impact Teen Drivers,'" she said. "We teach them the dangers of reckless and distracted driving, and the importance of choosing to do the right thing when no one is watching. Beyond just a one day assembly, I have met with the leadership students to continue the message throughout this year. Along with extra traffic enforcement at school arrival and dismissal times, all these efforts have yielded some very tangible changes in the way these teens choose to drive." Ironically, adults are more likely to drive recklessly or while distracted than teens, Jackson continued. "I would love for these teens to share the message of safe driving with the adults in their lives, and I am extremely proud of the good decisions our teens in these areas are making," she said. As for enforcement on Graham Hill Road, the CHP wrote 452 citations on the unincorporated part of the road that links Santa Cruz to Felton. Of those, 23 were for seat belt violations and 294 were for things such as improper speed, following too close and unsafe lane change, among other moving violations. Officers also made 15 DUI arrests there.  
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