STOPPED: Parent notification system attempts to promote safe driving

Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt is the first district representative for the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association’s STOPPED program. STOPPED is a voluntary program that notifies parents when a driver under the age of 21 is involved in a traffic stop or accident. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — Michigan parents can now be notified through text or email if their child is pulled over when driving.

A program by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association called STOPPED, Sheriffs Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers, is a parental notification system meant to reduce the number of young drivers who are involved in motor vehicle crashes each year.

To register for the free program sponsored by State Farm Insurance, parents can visit Misheriff.org.

By filling out your name, address and other information, parents can be notified via email or text if their driver under age 21 is stopped by a sheriff’s deputy. During registration, parents will choose a number of stickers to be placed in the top of the driver’s side rear window of their vehicles.

Stickers will alert sheriffs to send notifications to the owners of those vehicles if they’re involved in a traffic stop.

“When a deputy stops them, whatever happens, be it a verbal warning, a ticket or maybe it’s an accident, something like that, as soon as the traffic stop is over they send something in and it goes right to the parents: ‘Your son or daughter was stopped at such location, at such time, for whatever the violation was for,'” said Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt, who acts as first district representative for the STOPPED program.

The program aims to encourage conversation between parents and their children about safe driving, Zyburt said.

“New drivers are inexperienced and it takes years to become a good driver,” Zyburt said. “I think parents want to know if their kid, who is driving a 2,000-pound bullet, is driving careless or speeding or something like that because it does affect the parents; their insurance rates, their liability, the car if it’s involved in a crash and kills someone, so parents want to be notified if their kid is driving careless or that type of thing.”

A similar program has been in place for almost a decade using mail, but notifying through technology makes STOPPED a much more efficient system, he added.

While only sheriffs can currently notify through the program, Zyburt hopes to see it expand shortly to municipal police departments.

“I think a little bit of big brother watching and them knowing that the parents are going to be notified if they get stopped makes a big difference in the kids,” Zyburt said. “I’m hopeful and positive kids will think twice if they know their parents will be notified if they’re screwing up when they’re driving.”

Vehicle owners will not receive notifications for drivers involved in traffic stops and crashes that are over 21 years old.

Parents do not need to have State Farm Insurance to register for the program.

For more information, visit Misheriff.org or Michigan Sheriffs’ Association on Facebook.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is photos@miningjournal.net.