Driving is a responsibility and a privilege… and Broward County Court Officials want to make sure it’s not a privilege that’s being used and abused by local teens. In the new Teen Traffic Court pilot program which kicked off in October, the aim of the program is to help educate new drivers, not punish them.
As reported by the Sun Sentinel, for teens who are cited for speeding or disobeying traffic laws as first-time offenders, they may find themselves in front of a juvenile arbitration officer at Teen Traffic Court. Depending on a variety of factors such as the age of the teen, and the particular infraction, instead of paying a fine the officer can order other more appropriate consequences. Examples of punishments range from something as simple as completing a driver safety course, to something as severe as several hours of community service, or as personal as writing a note of apology.
Broward County is the second in the state to launch a Teen Traffic Court program; they are following the example of Pinellas County which has been hosting their own version of Traffic Court for over 10 years now, with good results. Programs like these offer a benefit to young drivers to rethink their choices and learn from the actions, and also eases up the heavy case load at adult traffic courts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and sadly Florida leads the nation in per capita fatal crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 19 (NHTSA). Teen Traffic Court may be a way to help cut back on those numbers.
The Teen Traffic Court program will begin as a monthly two-hour session at the Broward County Courthouse hearing cases from Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Wilton Manors and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. If the program is successful, it could be expanded to a weekly offering at all four courthouses in Broward County.
Do you think the Teen Traffic Court program will help to reduce the rate of teen car crashes and fatalities in Florida?