Sheriff’s teen traffic offender program expands throughout the Los Angeles area

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The Sheriff’s Teen Traffic Offender Program is currently expanding its reach to several cities in the San Fernando Valley, including Calabasas. S.T.T.O.P. is an intervention program created by the Malibu and Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department to help prevent reckless teen driving in the Los Angeles area. The program uses precautionary measures to alert reckless teen drivers of their actions before they are involved in an accident.

The purpose of S.T.T.O.P. is to make teenagers aware of dangerous driving and turn them into safer drivers before they injure themselves or others. When someone spots a reckless teen driver, he or she can report the license plate number to a S.T.T.O.P. sheriff, who will then attempt to track down the car of the reported teenager.

If they are able to find the reported car, the sheriffs will contact the teenager’s parents and alert them that their child has been driving recklessly. Often, parents will take disciplinary measures oftheir own such as enrolling their child in additional driving lessons or rescinding driving privileges for a certain period of time. Sheriffs then have the option of either coming to the teenager’s home or bringing him or her into the police station in order to explain their concerns.

“In reality, it would be nice if you could go to anyone and discuss responsibilities, even if it was an adult driving dangerously,” said officer Dan Merino. “The difference is that if citizens observe a violation committed by young adults, they can inform the parents to help correct the problem.”

According to dmv.ca.gov, drivers ages 16 to 19 have the highest average annual crash rate and traffic violation rates of any age group. S.T.T.O.P. is aimed at decreasing the number of accidents within this age range.

“If you took the total percentage of traffic accidents that have occurred for all age groups and compare that to the 16 and 17 age group, the percentage of accidents among teenagers is so much higher,” said Merino. “I think that the roads would be inherently safer if more teens knew that we are watching them, and if they drive irresponsibly, any adult can call to report them. I hope this program will eventually make more teens drive responsibly.”

S.T.T.O.P. is working to grow and expand to ultimately have a presence in most cities in southern California. The institution of the program in a widespread region is expected to correct dangerous teen driving and promote the safety of the whole community. With the expansion, S.T.T.O.P. is now active in Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Camarillo, Cresenta Valley Communities, Fillmore, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Moorpark, Oak Park, Ojai, Santa Clarita, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village.

“I think that both those involved in the program and the community as a whole will be positively impacted,” said senior Ethan Bloom. “Once problem drivers learn from the mistakes they have made, they will be able to change their driving habits and become safer drivers.”

Since 2006 S.T.T.O.P. has been successful in creating a safer environment for all drivers. The program leaders hope that the expansion of S.T.T.O.P. will prove beneficial for more cities in the Los Angeles area.

If a reckless teenage driver is spotted on the road, call 877-310-STOP or 818-880-5420 or go to http://www.sttop.net to report the driver.

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