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Defensive driving program can help save teens’ lives

Staff Report • May 7, 2012 at 9:32 AM

A comprehensive study released a few years ago found auto crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Of the more than 10,000 child passengers who were killed in car crashes cited in the six-year study, 54 percent were riding with a teen driver. Drivers younger than 16 were the most dangerous.

Three-quarters of the fatal crashes occurred on roads with speed limits higher than 45 mph, and nearly two-thirds of the young passengers were not wearing seat belts. These tragedies occur every day somewhere in this country.

Five years ago, one such case happened here. As Press staff writer Becky Campbell reported last month, Dustin Cupp was just 18 years old when he allowed a friend — inexperienced behind the wheel — to drive his truck early one morning. When the truck’s tires dropped off the narrow road, Dustin’s friend overcorrected and crashed into a tree.

Both were killed in the crash, but Dustin’s story doesn’t end there. An area woman has developed an educational course that incorporates what happened to Dustin into teaching young drivers to make better decisions.

Dustin’s 2Much2Live4 campaign is part of the Kombat for Life program, aimed at teaching teenagers the defensive driving skills they need to stay alive while on the highway. The campaign’s creator, Carrie Marchant, says the curriculum is designed to help teenage drivers cope with a number of issues they face, including alcohol, drugs, speed and distractions like cell phones and emotions.  

Marchant markets the program nationwide and has recently added the Johnson City Police Department to the list of departments using the curriculum.

Dustin’s parents, Diane and Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp, helped make a video in which they talk about their son, his love of life and what can happen when teens make the wrong decisions.

We are confident the 2Much2Live4 defensive driving program will be instrumental in getting the word out to teenage drivers to buckle up, remain sober and avoid distractions while they are behind the wheel.

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