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Brazos Valley community comes together to raise awareness about seat belt safety in teens

Posted at 8:48 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 15:00:01-04

BRAZOS VALLEY, TX — The parents of 19-year-old Camron Murrell were devastated last April when their son was involved in a car crash that took his life.

Camron had been driving without wearing a seat belt when he was killed in Liberty County. He would have celebrated his 21st birthday this past Sunday.

Camron’s mom, College Station resident Priscilla Wolf, said she doesn’t understand why Camron and his passenger, who also died in the crash, weren’t buckled up.

“Every time he was in my car and he wouldn’t put his seat belt on, I would smack him and say 'buckle up,'" Wolf recalled. "And it may seem I was on him about it all the time, but now I’m like - he still didn’t listen, even though I did stay on him about his seat belt.”

Unfortunately, too many young Texan drivers are just like Camron.

Research by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety says that new teen drivers are three times more likely than their adult counterparts to be involved in a collision, and the likelihood for crashes increases at the start of the summer.

Bob Colwell of the Texas Department of Transportation [TxDOT] is pushing for young driver education. He stressed the need to continually remind teenagers that even passengers need to wear seatbelts.

“We have new drivers who start driving every year," Colwell said. "I mean, we have a new crop of children that come. It’s important to keep preaching these messages over, and over, and over.”

In the city of Caldwell, parents have banded together to give teens a safe start to the summer with Project Graduation.

This event will attempt to keep new high school graduates safe and supervised on a night when they plan to celebrate.

Nearly 70% of Caldwell High School’s senior class has signed up to attend.

“We try to keep the kids off the roads, [to keep them] from drinking and driving," said Lori Olivarez, a parent organizer of Project Graduation in Caldwell. "It's a big deal, having parties in a small town. A lot of kids get out there, and drinking is a big thing, too.”

Not drinking and driving, buckling up, putting the cellphone away while behind the wheel – these may seem like common sense notions to parents, but moms like Priscilla Wolf want to remind the public that it’s critical to deeply instill these habits in young drivers.

Wolf has joined the Kailee Mills Foundation, an organization started by a Brazos Valley family to raise awareness about seat belt safety in teens.

"Getting involved with the Kailee Mills Foundation, it’s helped us get through this tough year, raising seat belt awareness, and not only seat belt awareness – just safety," Wolf said.

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