LEWISTON – With some anxiety, Gail Lafreniere let her 15-year-old son, Alex, go on a road trip with friends this week.

The teenagers planned to celebrate their first summer paychecks with a drive to South Portland. Lafreniere knows her son is responsible. She believes the 17-year-old driver, a friend of her son, is reliable.

“But what if something happens on their way to the Maine Mall? I would certainly want to know,” Lafreniere said.

Now she will. Under a new initiative, police will call the parents of teens found in potentially dangerous situations, such as in a speeding car or at a party with underage drinking. The goal: Head off car crashes and other serious incidents by tattling to mom and dad about minor ones.

It’s a plan Lafreniere likes.

“I have a lot of faith in my son, but I am nervous,” she said. “He’s a really good kid, but he can do something stupid. He’s 15.”

Heidi Poussard knows how Lafreniere feels. The Lewiston mother has a deal with neighbors – she calls when their kids do something wrong and they call when hers do.

Now that her 15-year-old son, Casey, is learning to drive, Poussard is happy that little network will extend to the police.

“I would want to know if he were irresponsible enough to put himself in that situation. Who else is going to tell their parents that?” she said.

But Kaylee Tyburski, 15, isn’t so sure police need to rat out teens. Parents should know when their teens get tickets, she said. But police shouldn’t call when a kid is a passenger in a speeding car or when a teen driver gets a warning for running a stop sign.

“It’s just a warning,” she said. “It’s not like they did anything really, really bad,” Tyburski said before her lesson at Roy’s Driving Academy in Lewiston.

Some of her friends likely wouldn’t tell their parents about an encounter with police, Tyburski said. But others would. And she would.

Tyburski believes the police plan could ruin the fragile trust between parent and teen.

“You need to have trust in your kids to drive safe,” she said.

Larry Caron, owner of Roy’s Driving Academy, can see Tyburski’s point. Teenagers are given adult responsibilities and adult penalties when driving. Now police will treat them like children. Despite that, he’s pleased with the initiative. Safety should come first, he said.

“If they get away with one little thing, it can escalate in the future,” he said. “Parents have the right to know.”


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