CEDAR HILL, Tenn. — Carleen Herndon remembers one of the worst nights of her life.
On January 27, 2013, she got a knock on her door.
“An officer came to the door,” Herndon said.
Her 21-year-old son Brock crashed his truck on Highway 161, then it flipped over.
“His words were ‘he is in critical condition,'” she said.
“His truck rolled several times,” the mother said. “He was ejected.”
Brock wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
One week later, he died from his injuries.
“He’s just so missed,” Herndon said. “He’s just such a big part of our lives.”
Herndon now shares Brock’s story with young people, specifically teens, urging them to be safe behind the wheel.
“Get in that car and buckle up,” she tells them. “Don’t get your phone out and don’t text and drive.”
The Tennessee Highway Safety Office says since January, 54 people have died in car crashes involving a teen driver.
That’s an increase from 33 deaths withing the same six-month period in 2018.
“It’s really disheartening to see these fatality numbers,” said Arriale Tabson, spokesperson for the THSO.
Speeding, failure to maintain the proper lane, and erratic driving were top factors, according to the THSO.
“If we’re not educating our teens, they’re not only a risk to themselves,” Tabson said. “They’re a risk to other drivers on the roadway.”
Tabson says they’re trying to spread awareness now that school’s out and more teens are likely to be on the road.
“Mind their speed, slow down, and do their best to have safe choices behind the wheel,” Tabson said.
“It’s a message Herndon shares at high schools and through her campaign Buckle Up for Brock.
She’ll also be at the teen driver education camp in Nashville in July.
“You’ve got to take the precautions,” Herndon said. “This is no joke. It’s serious.”
“It’s not worth your life.”