This past Sunday two groups of teenagers, in Texas and Ohio, were killed when their vehicles were involved in terrible accidents. In Dumas, a small town in the northern Texas panhandle, five teens between the ages of 15 and 17 died when the SUV they were in ran a stop sign and was hit by a gas tanker which then exploded. Earlier that same day in Warren, Ohio eight teenagers, between 14 and 19 years old, were in an SUV that hit a guardrail and flipped into a pond. Six of those teens died in the accident, and it was reported that those who died had not been wearing seat belts. These tragedies highlight the dangers teenagers face on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention car accidents are the number one killer of young people in America. Wrecks were responsible for the deaths of one quarter of all the 15 to 24 year old who died in 2010, ahead of other top causes such as homicides, suicides, and accidental poisonings.
Despite these sobering statistics involving young people the overall picture on roadway safety isn’t all bleak. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that, as a whole, traffic fatalities have actually been dropping at a historic pace, being at the lowest level since 1949; and this includes deaths of teen drivers and young passengers which are significantly lower compared to a decade ago. While this trend is promising it is still concerning that traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for youths. There are a number of reasons teens are at particular risk behind the wheel of a car ranging from inexperience to distractions, especially when other young people are in the car with them. These accidents not only affect the teenager behind the wheel but also the other drivers involved. Wrecks caused by young drivers can subject them and their parents to lawsuits by others injured in an accident. It is for these reasons that parents need to be sure their teens are ready to take on the responsibility of driving before handing over the keys.