Parental involvement saving lives of teen drivers

Published 9:32 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

Saving lives and keeping our roads safer is not always just about putting people behind bars, especially when it comes to our young adults.

Teenagers often get the bad rap of being terrible drivers but, according to a recent release from the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, teen driving accidents in the state are down by more than 24 percent over the past decade.

How is this possible? By getting their parents involved.

In conjunction with State Farm Insurance, STOPPED (Sheriffs Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers) is a free and voluntary program available to families with a new driver under 21 years of age. The MSA sends participants a decal to place on the windshield of any car, motorcycle, boat, moped or snowmobile that a new driver will operate. If the registered vehicle is stopped by law enforcement for any reason, the driver’s family will be contacted by phone, email or letter.

This program certainly has certainly driven a positive result here in southwest Michigan.

In Berrien County, there were 945 traffic crashes among the 16-to-20 age demographic in 2006. In 2010, that number dropped to 812. Four years later, in 2014, it was down to 640.

In Cass County, there were 342 crashes in the teen age group in 2006. In 2010, it dropped to 258 and that figure was down to 175 in 2014.

The association has registered 37,000 vehicles since the program’s inception. Although other enforcement and education efforts clearly play a role, the STOPPED program certainly gets some of the credit for the decrease in accidents, injuries and deaths among teens in this age bracket.

“While not all of the credit can be given to STOPPED, we have witnessed a decline of 18,000 accidents among the new driver age group over the past decade,” said Terrence Jungel, MSA CEO/executive director and one of the officials who launched the program in Michigan. “When teens know their parents will be notified if they are pulled over, they make better, safer driving decisions. It’s like putting the parents in the back seat.”

Imagine what could be accomplished if the organization and others work harder to get the word out.

Families can get registration information for the program at any of Secretary of State office, as well as by contacting the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association directly at 517-485-3135 or online at

Enforcement and education can go a long way toward keeping our roads — and our children — safer but nothing beats engaged parents who hold their children accountable for their actions.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at