Thursday, January 25, 2007

Distractions Cause Teen Accidents

I have a student who rolled the family auto recently. Fortunately he wasn't hurt at all, but it's still scary to hear about. We had a student who died in a rather gruesome car accident shortly before graduation a couple of years ago. It wasn't a happy campus. I can't imagine what his parents went through.

I read this today and one statistic was rather sobering:

But teens reported a host of other in-car distractions that researchers say help make traffic accidents the No. 1 killer of U.S. teens, with a fatality rate four times higher than drivers aged 25-69, based on miles driven. About 5,600 teens died in traffic accidents in 2005, and about 7,500 were driving cars involved in fatal accidents.

That's more dead teenagers in one year than we've lost soldiers in Iraq in 4 years. Quagmire indeed.

But wait, there's more:

Researchers found that one teenage passenger with a teen driver doubles the risk of a fatal crash, while the risk is five times higher when two or more teens ride along. Most states have laws restricting passengers when teens drive, but 15 states do not.

Nearly 90 percent of teens reported seeing peers drive while talking on cell phones and more than half spotted drivers using hand-held games, listening devices or sending text messages.



La Maestra said...

So are you for a graduated licensing system like CA has? Or is that too nanny state for you?

Darren said...

I haven't decided. I probably lean towards supporting it. I support our no-smoking laws, too, but I can justify that by saying that your rights shouldn't violate mine.

Anonymous said...

This is also why driving while using any kind of cell phone should be outlawed. Some think it's all good if you use a hands-free system. Nope. It's not about where your hands are; it's about where your mind is.

Nick said...

I don't know that I like this one.

Anonymous said...

*knock wood*
The only accident any of our kids have had is from a ditzy girl backing out from a parking space into the side of my son's car. And then claiming it was his fault and holding up insurance by dodging the adjuster for a month.

First of all, every state needs to IMMEDIATELY enact legislation that would suspend insurance payment to the driver that had an accident while on a cell phone. Ditto one that had the DVD player on. And this isn't just kids, because one of our coaches got slammed into by some soccer mom in a Tahoe who was chatting away while she careened through the parking lot-full of kids and school buses and teachers.
SECONDLY, and kids will groan, the age of driving needs to be raised to 18. Sorry, but it works in Europe. We have kids who get cars as part of the Bill of Rights and within weeks they end up in a wreck. We held our kids back until they were nearly 18 and the maturity level is much higher. Plus by then they realize that the possibility of having their parents drive them to the prom is very real and will drive in a sober manner.

FINALLY, kids who have more than two moving violations and/or accidents in a year should have their licenses suspended. Ride the bus or the train. Or take a bike. Too many parents shove their kids into cars simply to be rid of the need to play carpool. That's a pretty expensive way to run things if your kid gets into a wreck. Plus once kids have cars, you no longer really have tabs on them. So you had better be sure you know your child. I have seen parents totally shocked when their little darling ended up at the hospital or police station as a result of typical teen bad choices.

Anonymous said...

I wish that there were more people to help enforce laws....o wait, they're in Iraq...

Scott McCall said...

I fully support your last comment ellen....but I just turned 18 last week, and I'v had my licence ever since my 16th birthday. I don't have any tickets, violations, or accidents other than one which has nothing to do with a phone. it was my fault as i rear ended the lady ahead of me, but that was because i was looking at street signs for directions, so i was just as able as any adult to get in the same accident. Being 16 (almost 17 at that point) had nothing to do with the accident.

I have to agree though, some teenagers are f***in stupid with cars. but thats because the parents think its a great idea to give their disobedient son/daughter a brand new BMW or some high performance car. so, it becomes the parents fault at this point for PROVIDING their misbehaved son/daughter (with parents knowing they drink or do other dumb shit) with a moving weapon. and while the rates are high for teen accidents, it's still not "majority of teenage drivers cause accidents"...its only "majority of accidents are caused by teenagers"...which means LESS than 50% of teenagers will actually get in a wreck, which (in my oppinion) is not good enough to limit all other teenager's privileges. Some parents need to get the shit smacked out of them, not teenagers.

Darren said...

Ah yes. Were it not for that war, we'd have soldiers on every street corner here in the US. Apparently you've never heard of the Posse Comitatus Act.

Scott McCall said...

thats a good point

La Maestra said...

Was I mature enough to drive at 16? You bet. But my parents made me wait until I was almost 18 before they would allow me to get my license. 10 years later, and I've never gotten so much as a parking ticket (although maybe I shouldn't mention that some of my students have nickednamed me "Speedracer __[lastname]___". Heh.)

Darren, my uber-conservative AP Government teacher in HS had a saying: "Your right to free speech ends at the tip of my nose." So I guess that's where this comes in?

Ellen, I'm all for this, but people will still manage to get away with it, and the phone companies will still take forever to get records out, even subpoenaed. A coworker of mine (unfortunately) was text-messaging and driving and rolled her SUV and totalled it. She told the cops and insurance company she was swerving to avoid hitting a deer. Well, 1st of all, unless you're in a Kharmann Ghia, HIT THE DEER. She was in a Suburban. Second of all, thanks, asshat, for making everyone else's rates go up! She just laughed it off when she told the story, and I wanted to just scream.

Also Ellen, kids in many areas will still drive, even without licenses. Yeah, I realize this is a parenting problem--maybe the parents' licenses need to be threatened? Oh yeah, they'll drive w/o licenses as well! In our small town, reading the police blotter for our local weekly newspaper is a community event, and the fine I've noticed for driving without a license is between $500-$1000.

I have SO MANY students who drive without licences that it makes me insane, and I know parents (usually immigrant parents, but sometimes parents who were born here) who think that once a kid has a learner's permit, that's all they need to go and drive by themselves, without an adult in the car.

I only know of TWO families who enforce the graduated licensing rule with their children (both have three kids in high school.) For everyone else, it's a big joke. And our local police, for the most part, look the other way.

Frustrating as hell. I only live a mile from work, but I've quit riding my bike because the street down which I drive is narrow with narrow sidewalks, and kids like to haul ass down the street. I just don't think it's safe.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes. The good news is that Reservists who serve in law enforcement are exempt from being called up for Iraq.