Every year, accidents cause the most deaths among Americans, whether it’s accidents with guns, boating or fires, car accidents are the most common. Unfortunately, you can fill three large high schools of teenagers who’ve died annually due to motor vehicle accidents.
“While society spends an enormous amount of time and money talking about the dangers of drugs and alcohol,” says Sharon Silke Carty, senior editor of AOL Autos, “much fewer resources are spent on teaching teens about the thing that is most likely to kill them: Car accidents.”
Unsafe driving habits are practiced through video games, seen in movies, and heard through music. “The car culture in this country is a huge problem,” says Tim Hollister, a teen safety advocate in Connecticut.
Parents, he says, are largely blind to the problem. They feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders, not having to be the main source of their teen’s transportation.
“Properly supervising a teen driver in this country forces you to swim against the tide and put popular culture out of your mind,” he says.
From experience and research, Hollister believes that safe teen drivers are nonexistent. Research shows that teens aren’t as conscious of the risks, and are more likely to gamble their chances behind the wheel, unlike adults.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance found that 75% of lethal accidents caused by teen drivers are most likely one of the following: driving too fast relative to road conditions or weather; not scanning the road well enough, identifying what was coming ahead or from the side; or distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.
Hollister taught his son, Reid, how to drive. Sixteen year old Reid received this license in Connecticut. He was a cautious driver and eager to learn. Proving his determination, he took classes at a local private driving school. Upon receiving his license, he got a ticket for not signaling before switching lanes, and another for going 5 mph over the speed limit.
Nothing else stands out as a red flag, Hollister says, thinking back on how Reid possessed a license for only 11 months.
“Looking back, I don’t think I understood anywhere near how dangerous it was,” Hollister says. “The idea that he could go into an uncontrolled skid and lose his life never crossed my mind.”
Tim Hollister and his son Reid.
On Dec. 2, 2006, Reid was driving down a wet unfamiliar highway with two high school freshmen girls in a 1999 Volvo S80.
It was around 9:30 p.m. when Reid entered a turn going about 65 mph near exit 34 on I-84 in Plainville, Conn. His speed was too fast for the turn, and the car began to skid. Panicking, Reid turned the wheel in the same direction the car was going, which did nothing to slow the vehicle down.
The car spun several times. The teenagers hit the end of the guardrail – being the end result of an experienced driver. The guard rail punctured the car at the driver side, and killed Reid. The two passengers survived.
Several months later, Hollister started a blog about teen driving safety.
“I got into this not because I made an obvious mistake, but because I didn’t and my son still had a fatal crash,” he says. “He was an alert, coordinated driver. There was no alcohol or drugs. He wasn’t on his cellphone.”
This fatal occurrence can happen to any teen driver:
“He simply made a classic inexperienced driver’s mistake,” Hollister says.
Most people think that the main cause of teen driving accidents is the irresponsibility of the teen, whether they’re putting on make-up, texting on their cell phones, or being under the influence of an illegal substance. Thinking this, parents always tell their children not to do this, or do that while behind the wheel. But these aren’t the only causes.
Speeding causes most of the one-car fatal accidents.
Speeding causes most of the one-car fatal accidents, not talking directly on a cell phone. This is because teens may speed down an open road and may not see a curve or a bump.
Estimated by AllState Insurance, these accidents cause 40% of the 5,000 to 6,000 teen deaths annually.
In Ohio over the Fourth of July weekend this year, speeding killed three young men. Two 18-year-olds and one 19-year-olds were in the car. Witnesses estimated the driver, Cody Mazuk, was driving 70 mph in 35 mph zone. He was trying to pass another car.
His vehicle collided into a rock, then a tree, and then a second rock before going inflight and crashing into a second tree. Mazuk and Jeremiah Fischer, 18, died at the scene. A day later, 19-year-old Christopher Drummond died.
The Center for Disease Control says teens are more likely to speed than older drivers, and they don’t allow for enough space between themselves and cars around them.
Maybe teens aren’t mentally ready to handle the obstacles that may come their way that are associated with driving. When these obstacles do come their way, they panic and often lose control of their car; swerving, and colliding into another object.
Drivers shouldn't swerve when obstacles are in the road.
In July, Ryan Fant, 17, from Townvillw, S.C., died after swerving to avoid hitting a deer. Police reported he was driving with two passengers in his 1994 Ford pickup truck. Ryan turned to the right causing the truck to flip after a deer dashed in front of his truck.
He then was discharged from the truck and died. Luckily, the two passengers were unharmed.
Some professional driving instructors recommend drivers shouldn’t swerve when animals enter the road. They should brake hard, and keep in their lane.
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