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Teen driving forum at SR

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Safety issues will be explored at event

By John Barnhart

    A teen driving forum, organized by the father of a Staunton River High School student, will be held in the school’s auditorium Monday night, Dec. 17.
    Herb Krebs, the forum’s organizer, said that he got the idea after he saw a petition calling for improvements on Va. 24 where the latest accidents to claim the lives of SRHS students occurred. Krebs said that the money isn’t there to take the actions the petition is requesting.
    “I want something we can do now,” he said.
    Krebs said that he noticed that most of the teen accidents involving SRHS students have been due to inexperience.
    “I started it very small,” he said. “Then I was introduced to Tim Groover. He took it to another level.”
    Groover has been very involved in teen driving safety issues since his 15-year-old daughter, Brittany, was killed in an accident 10 years ago. She was a passenger in the car.
    Krebs doesn’t ever want to walk in Groover’s shoes.
    “My son goes to Staunton River,” Krebs said. “He just got his license.”
    Futhermore, his son knew two of the students killed last month.
    “Katie [Thurston] sat right next to him in math class,” Krebs said. “Ashley [Barton] was a good friend of his.”
    The forum will consist of a discussion by a panel that will include Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown; Dr. Charlie Klauer, senior research associate, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; Mary King, program administrator for YOVASO (Youth of Virginia Speak Out); Tim Groover, chair of BEDCO CARES; and two SRHS student representatives.
    “Our panel is going to give parents an idea of what they can do,” he said.
    Each person will give a six to 10 minute long presentation. Then there will be 30 minutes for     the    audience    to   ask questions. That will be followed by a mix-and-mingle session that will provide additional opportunities for questions.
    Groover, in a phone interview, said that his presentation will be from a parent’s perspective, presenting issues that he’s learned since his daughter’s death.
    “It’s not always something that happens to somebody else,” he noted.
    Mary King said that she plans to talk about YOVASO’s peer-to-peer program.
    “We are a student led organization,” she said.
    King said that peer-to-peer works like a school club. In this case, teens talk to teens about what they think the driving safety problems are in the school and what they can do about them.
    She’s also going to talk about the importance of parents modeling good driving behavior for their children. She also wants to talk about the importance of parents setting rules and monitoring their teens’ driving.
    Sheriff Mike Brown said that he will also talk primarily to the parents, stressing the importance of being more conscious of their teens driving behavior. Like King, he will stress the importance of parents providing a good example when they are behind the wheel.
    The forum will begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 and is scheduled to last until 8:30 p.m.

The petition

The on-line petition, calling for Va. 24 improvements, requests the following:
    1) Widen the lanes within five years.
    2) Lower the speed limit to 45 mph all over Rt. 24.
    3) Add street lights on curves.
    4) Guard rails in areas needed.
    5) More deer caution signs.
    6) Change hunting season from two weeks to four weeks to control deer population.
    7) Provide schools with simulators for drivers education classes.