Schools in Wilkes started one week ago today, and the Highway Patrol will be focusing on education and enforcement. Troopers across the state will be educating teenage drivers by implementing teenage driver safety plans and will be working with school administrators in offering any assistance in the area of highway safety. Also, increased enforcement visibility in and around all school zones will be observed. Research has shown that teenage drivers lack the experience of seasoned drivers and are more likely to be distracted while operating a motor vehicle. According to the National Highway and Transportation Traffic Safety Administration and the UNC Highway Research Center: Fifty-seven percent (57%) of fatalities involving young drivers occur on rural roadways, One out of four 16-year-old drivers in North Carolina is involved in a car crash every year and nearly half of these crashes are serious enough to result in injury or death, 16-year-olds are three times more likely to die in a car crash then other drivers, Sixty-one percent (61%) of all young driver fatalities were NOT wearing their seatbelts, and Fifty-four percent (54%) of the vehicle’s occupants were killed as a result of NOT being restrained. Given this information, it is not surprising that traffic collisions continue to be the leading cause of teenage deaths in North Carolina. In addition, the new school year brings an increase of school buses on North Carolina highways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration an average of 24 school-age children nationwide die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year (11 occupants of school transportation vehicles and 13 pedestrians). So motorists should watch out for school buses on the highways and student pedestrians getting on and off buses in rural Wilkes County.