It has been a terrible few weeks on our area roads. Three automobile accidents have tragically taken the lives of at least five teens and injured many others.
Saturday night a beautiful 17-year-old senior at L.D. Bell in Hurst died in a collision in Arlington. The Star Telegram reported that the young woman loved singing and helping other people and animals. She had just been accepted to college at Texas Woman’s University and wanted to be a nurse. The vehicle driven by her boyfriend, also a 17-year-old senior at Bell, hydroplaned as he changed lanes on a wet Interstate 20. His vehicle spun sideways and was hit by an oncoming car. He broke his jaw and will have to undergo major reconstructive surgery. The other driver was also injured and was taken by ambulance to an area hospital.
In a second crash late Sunday night in Everman, police arrived at Roy C. Brooks Drive and found that a Ford Mustang had rolled over. The two occupants, who were 18-year-old students at Everman High School, were pronounced dead at the scene.
And a few weeks ago, a drag race ended in a horrible accident in Plano when the driver lost control and hit a tree. The Porsche Macan burst into flames, tragically killing the two beautiful 16-year-olds pictured above and severely injuring a third young woman who remains hospitalized.
These stories are incredibly gut-wrenching. I extend my sincere condolences to the families and surviving victims.
Why are so many teens dying on Dallas-Fort Worth roadways? And more importantly, what can we do to stop this from happening over and over?
Why is this Happening?
Statistics highlight the magnitude of the epidemic of teen traffic fatalities. Car wrecks killed a whopping 2,270 teenagers in 2014. That’s six teen deaths per day from car crashes.
Why? Here are some of the reasons.
First, teens tend to underestimate dangers and do not have enough experience to react quickly and appropriately. Teens speed more and use their seat belts less than adults. In fact, only 61 percent of teens said they wore their seat belts when they were a car passenger.
Second, alcohol is a factor in a frighteningly large percentage of crashes. 17 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 17 percent or higher (the legal limit is usually only 8%). 20 percent of teens admitted getting into the car with a friend who had consumed alcohol, and 8 percent admitted to driving after drinking within the previous month.
Third, 10 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted at the time. The dangers of texting while driving are fully-proven. Equally distracting is having other teenage friends in the car.
What Can We Do to Make Teen Driving Safer?
Parents work hard to protect their kids from harm. However, once the teen has jumped in the car and pulled out of the driveway, we can only hope they’ve listened and will follow rules regarding alcohol use, texting, speeding and having friends in the car. I remember sweating out the days after my daughter started driving when she was 15.
Again, it’s time for the Texas legislature to ban texting while driving. How can parents tell their kids it’s not okay when they see adults in every other car on the phone? This may not be the end-all, but preventing even a portion of senseless teen traffic accidents is a big step in the right direction.