Our teens are dying in wrecks; we must take action

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 18, 2009

By Mendee Williams
For the Salisbury Post
On July 11, 2009, at 3 a.m., I awoke to a haunting knock at my door.
It was a parent’s worst nightmare. I had lost my son, Gregory Lee Terry, 18, in a car accident.
Over the last several years, the number of teen deaths by motor vehicle continues to escalate, especially in Rowan County. It seems like a lot of the young people who have perished went to West Rowan High School. Curtis, Andrew, Joe, Greg, Marc. Those are just the ones that I am familiar with. All of these young men lost their lives in an auto accident.
Are our teenagers really ready for such a big responsiblity at this very young age? It’s a fact that in males under the age of 21, their brains aren’t completely developed. They have no concept of fear, or of consequences for their actions. Do our teenagers really have the respect they need to be trusted behind the wheel? Not only are we putting their lives in danger, but all those they may pass on the road. Do they fully understand how dangerous our roads are?
How many 16-year-old kids do you know who just started driving, and yet after being warned about talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel, they do it any way? People, this is scary!
I had told Greg, after Joe’s death, that even back when I went to school, there was always one boy before graduation, and one after graduation, who died in an accident. I just never knew how close that would hit home.
We must find a way to reach our children, to make them understand how precious life is. We must make them understand how important it is to respect the potential dangers of driving a car.
It’s not always the kids’ fault. We need to teach them defensive driving also. We need to do whatever it takes to save the life of another child. The next one may be your own. I hope that it’s not. I never thought it would be mine either.
If you find yourself or someone you love in this situation, there is a support group that has helped me so very much. It’s called the Circle of Hope. It is a group of parents who meet once a month, and as needed, to help each other through this very painful ordeal. You may call 704-630-0319 for more information.
What can we do to help solve this problem? We must do something! These are our children, our future!
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Mendee Williams lives in Mount Ulla. Her son, Gregory, was a 2009 graduate of West Rowan High School.