Maine cops will call parents on teen drivers

Parents will be the first to know about every traffic violation, police say.
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Teenagers in Maine who get pulled over by police for speeding and other traffic infractions, no matter how minor, could find themselves explaining to mom and dad.
State police, county sheriffs' and local police chiefs' associations have started Operation SAFEGuard to avoid deaths and injuries among teens on Maine's highways. It's based on a simple idea: calling or visiting the parents whether the young driver is ticketed or just gets a verbal or written warning.
The slogan: "Your parents will be the first to know."
"This is not going to be as easy as it sounds," said Aroostook County Sheriff James Madore, representing the Maine Sheriffs Association.
Madore, who was flanked by two dozen police cruisers and a small legion of officers and emergency-response officials when they unveiled the program recently, said some parents are not receptive to police calls about their children. They may dismiss them with a "Kids will be kids" or "Don't you have anything better to do?" response, he said.
On the other hand, some parents say they're the last to find out about their child's illegal or risky behavior behind the wheel, said state police Maj. Randall Nichols.
However, Nichols said parental response, whether it involves a curfew or other action, is more effective than laws when dealing with young motorists, who make up the highest-risk group of drivers. Fifty-four percent of teenage crash deaths in 2003 occurred on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Under the new effort, parents might get a call if their child failed to stop completely at a stop sign or is pulled over for speeding or failure to wear a safety belt. Police who recently broke up a party where several dozen teenagers were drinking made the youths use their own cell phones to call their parents to pick them up.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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