We Care is a teen driving program developed as part of an alliance between young drivers and the police and school officials who care about them.
Automobile deaths have long been the leading cause of death among teenagers but after nine students in Charles County died during the 2007-2008 school year in a shocking, saddening series of traffic fatalities, the community resolved to defy the odds and prevent the loss of more young lives. Thus, We Care was developed as part of an alliance between the CCSO and Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and introduced at the beginning of the school year in 2008. Each year since, the program has engaged students in activities that discourage unsafe and unlawful driver behavior, and teen traffic fatalities have dramatically decreased.
On the first day of school, the Sheriff, the School Superintendent and School Resource Unit officers greet student drivers as they enter school parking lots and present them with fliers with safety tips and information about teen-specific driving laws. The school officers conduct checkpoints randomly throughout the remainder of the school year to ensure students are wearing their seatbelts and complying with laws restricting passengers who can occupy vehicles driven by teens. The schools sponsor safe driving assemblies and other events and the Association of Student Councils organizes monthly campaigns that include creating posters, recording public service announcements for local radio stations and government cable channels, and participating in Red for Dead day during which students wear red shirts to symbolize teens who died in crashes.
The unprecedented program drastically reduced the number of teen traffic fatalities immediately following its inception: One teen died in a 2009 crash while driving in a neighboring county and another teen died in 2011 when she lost control of her car in inclement weather.