CHAMPION - A program that unites 4-H, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Trumbull County Juvenile Court focuses on teaching first-time juvenile traffic offenders the way to be safe and responsible drivers.
Michelle Adkins, a program coordinator and an Ohio State University 4-H extension educator, said Ohio State University Extension's 4-H CARTEENS Program provides traffic safety instruction to teens who are first-time traffic offenders and have been ordered by a court to attend.
The "CAR" in Ohio 4-H CARTEENS stands for "Caution And Responsibility" while "TEENS" refers to the teenagers who help prepare and present the program, she said.
Teen traffic offenders attending this program have typically been cited for speeding, stop sign violations, reckless operation, and other similar moving violations. The Trumbull 4-H CARTEENS program works with the Trumbull County Family Court system to require first-time juvenile offenders ages 16 to 18 to attend a 4-H CARTEENS program.
A parent and / or guardian is required to attend the session with their teen.
Adkins said the program's primary goal is to reduce the number of repeat juvenile traffic offenders.
Teen volunteers teach traffic education safety programs. CARTEENS activities include identifying road signs, demonstrating stopping distances and wearing "drunk" goggles to reiterate the dangers of drunk driving.
Adkins said the state patrol already had a program, so 4-H merged the program it was beginning it the patrol's. The 4-H program is run by volunteers, some of whom took the program when they were teenagers.
''The program utilizes teens to teach teens. This is a peer-to-peer instruction with interactive learning,'' Adkins said.
In addition, the program brings in guest speakers who share their story of having lost someone in a traffic incident.
Instructor Garrett Pierce, a senior at Bristol High School, said he decided to become a volunteer after going through the program himself.
''I speak from experience so I tell those in the program that I know why they are here and what they need to know to change,'' Pierce said.
Josh Penick, a Liberty High School graduate and volunteer instructor, said he completed the public safety program at Trumbull Career and Technical Center and wanted to volunteer.
''I have been in their shoes once. We have also been pulled over for whatever reason,'' he said.
Trooper Larry Jones said he and two other troopers instruct the course, which focuses on educating the drivers.
''It is important they understand what can happen and this program discusses and shows that,'' Jones said.
Guest speaker Bill Hess of Cortland, a parent, speaks to the drivers about his son, Tim, who died in an auto accident in 2011.
''I'm not here to lecture. I just tell them the story of what our family went through and hope it makes someone think twice when driving. I want them to make the right decisions,'' Hess said.
Those teens wanting to volunteer for the program can call Adkins at 330-638-6783 or email firstname.lastname@example.org