EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Chris McLaughlin has been teaching his 15-year-old daughter, Sydney, about driving for years.
The Egg Harbor Township family owns go-karts that they drive on the property, but as his daughter, a sophomore at Egg harbor Township High School, is about to learn to drive on the roads, and McLaughlin acknowledges it's an entirely different situation.
"When she goes out there that's what I'm worried about," he said of his daughter getting a license and driving in a car.
Hundreds of students and their parents were at the high school Tuesday for an hour long event Tuesday night titled “Share the Keys." The purpose of the program is to educate the teenagers and their parents of the responsibilities of driving as well as the requirements to obtain a permit at 16 and a probationary license at 17.
The program started at the school in 2009 and has developed over the years, said Mike Tullio, traffic safety specialist for the Vineland based South Jersey Tarffic Safety Alliance, who said they do programs across South Jersey.
Tullio said 700 teenagers have died in the state in driving accidents since 2000.
"The highest risk is in the first two years," he said. "You need to have 1,000 hours experience before you can be considered an experienced driver."
Karen Semet, health and physical education supervisor at the school, told the parents in attendance to ask their children three questions whenever they hand over the keys: Where are you going? Who are you going with? And when will you be home?
"The parent is extremely important in enforcing the rules," she said. "We all share the road, whether you are 15 or 50 or 80. We all need to be involved."
Sophomore Justin Epifanio, 16, and his father, Michael, discussed a driving contract at the forum. They both agreed to certain rules Justin must adhere to when he drives and if he doesn't he will lose his driving privileges.
"I saw a lot of things that could happen to me (while driving)," he said of the event. "It's a good thing to have all these rules."
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