Notifying parents when kids pulled over

Michigan sheriffs have a program in place to tell parents, by text or email, when their children under age 21 are pulled over in a traffic stop by the police. It’s a novel idea that is generating a lot of interest and should be something Ohio police should consider.

The program, designed to reduce the number of young drivers involved in crashes, is called STOPPED, or Sheriffs Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers.

To participate, parents would register using a simple online form, listing whatever vehicles their child under 21 may be driving. They are then sent stickers to be placed on each vehicle’s back window that has an identification number.

Then, when a sheriff’s deputy pulls over the vehicle driven by someone under 21, the deputy sends a text or email to the parents explaining the nature of the stop, the mannerism of the driver and passengers, and whether a citation was issued.

“This could be a game changer,” said Blaine Koops, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs Association, which administers the program. “It’s a whole new way of law enforcement.”

After the digital notification aspect was announced in the past couple of weeks, interest in the program exploded, although initial signups figures have not been tallied. Mr. Koops was unaware of a similar statewide program.

The Wolverine state has had a notification program in place for about 10 years, with about 40,000 vehicles registered, but notices were sent by mail to the parents, usually about two weeks after the traffic stop. That time lag dampened the effectiveness, whereas an immediate digital notification would have immediate consequences.

Starting at the end of May, Livingston and Mason counties initiated a change to provide texts or email notices, the parents’ choice, for traffic stops. The plan is to roll out the program soon to Michigan’s 83 counties. Right now, only sheriff’s deputies can participate, but Mr. Koops said local police eventually will be asked to join.

Livingston County Sheriff Michael Murphy lauds the program and said there has been limited objections from parents or students. The purpose of the program is to encourage conversations between parents and their children about safe driving.

Most of the notifications sent to parents in the past, he said, were for their child’s speeding or running a stop sign or traffic light.

Since it’s voluntary and provides notification in real time, the program is a good one. It is privately funded by insurer State Farm, and had no political debate in the Michigan Legislature.

Sounds like an idea that Ohio law enforcement should implement.

— The Toledo Blade; Online: