Fatal Teen Crash in South Carolina a Stark Reminder of Spring Risks

Two teens were killed and two others seriously injured in a South Carolina car accident as the four students were driving to school.
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Hundreds attended a joint funeral for the 18-year-old and 17-year-old, as their companions, age 17 and 16, remained in a Hilton Head hospital recovering from potentially life-threatening injuries. Officials were still investigating the crash, but say the driver apparently struck a culvert, went airborne and then slammed into a tree.

While the final accident report has not yet been released, our Greenville injury attorneys see this as an important time to revisit some of the primary causes of wrecks involving teens, and how parents can help to reduce the risks as we approach graduation and the start of summer break.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens in South Carolina and throughout the U.S. Every single day, seven teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die in a crash somewhere in this country. That amounts to about 2,700 lives lost every single year. More than 282,000 are injured in these accidents.

Some of the biggest risk factors for fatalities include:

  • Teens driving with other teen passengers. In fact, the more teens in the car, the higher the chances of a crash.
  • Inexperience. The probability of a crash is especially high during the first six months a teen has a license.
  • Speeding and not allowing enough distance between their vehicle and the car ahead.
  • Distraction. Cell phones are believed to be involved in about a quarter of all crashes. A recent AAA Foundation for Safety study found that in the course of 25,000 driving clips of monitored teens, electronic devices were being used about 7 percent of the time. Some of the drivers were observed using their devices no less than 15 percent of the time.
  • Alcohol use. This is especially relevant as we head into graduation season.

South Carolina has enacted a number of measures to curb some of these actions. For example, the state’s graduated driver licensing laws allow no more than two passengers under 21 in the vehicle for a driver who has an intermediate license. The only exception is if the teen driver is going to and from school.

Tighter restrictions on teen passengers could go a long way toward reducing the incidence of fatal crashes among South Carolina teens.

Additionally, South Carolina is the only state in the south with no texting ban in place – not even for novice drivers or school bus drivers. A measure is pending right now in the South Carolina State Senate that would change that.The new proposal would require a $100 fine for a first-offense, and would also forbid driver’s with beginner’s permits or restricted licenses from using a cell phone at all while driving.

A number of cities have enacted local ordinances that ban the practice, but a statewide measure is necessary.

Lastly, it’s critical for parents to talk to their teens about drinking and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association reports that among the 15-to-20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes, nearly a third were drunk.

As parents, we need to open up a conversation on these issues. While it may not always seem like it, our kids are listening.

Contact the Greenville car accident attorneys at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Fatal Hilton Head Island Crash Still Under Investigation, April 2, 2014, By Liz Buckthorpe, 94.3 FM WSC News Radio

More Blog Entries:
Understanding Your South Carolina Auto Insurance Rights, April 1, 2014, Greenville Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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