With parents and students getting back into the school year swing, there are hundreds of brand new drivers taking to the streets in the east. Troopers say a new statewide school safety initiative will help them build a relationship with high schoolers and encourage new drivers to be safe.
Students eating lunch at Ayden-Grifton High School Wednesday got a visit by Highway Patrol Troopers, but no one was in trouble. This was a visit to educate young drivers and future drivers.
"We will be stopping by for lunch time visits as well as other times throughout the day and as we have calls in and around schools we will be stopping in the parking lot doing the reports in the parking lot," said Trooper Doug Coley.
It's all part of a new statewide safety effort to make troopers more visible and accessible for students. Pitt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Kip Gaskins heads up the school resource program in Pitt County Schools.
"You're building a relationship with the kids and the kids are seeing you in a new light, not just the blue lights. They're seeing you in a good light walking around their schools keeping them safe not just seeing them as someone who is behind them as they're leaving the school," said Gaskins.
We spoke to teen driver Samaria Trimble who was in a wreck recently.
"I got in a accident on August the 8th. I was going through an intersection and a car was turning and we hit each other. He was turning and I was going straight and I totaled my car."
She thinks the Highway Patrol program is a good idea.
"If you know someone instead of them being a stranger you feel safer with them," said Trimble.
Ayden- Grifton High School principal Marty Baker says troopers presence also steps up traffic safety around the school.
"It also helps in the morning with the school zones to slow down traffic. In front of Ayden-Grifton its 60 miles an hour at a pretty bad intersection out here, so to have them out here it makes it safer," said Baker.
"When I see one I'm definitely making sure I drive safe," said teen driver Garrett Woods.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, in 2012 traffic crashes were the leading cause of death for Americans ages 15 to 20 years old.