Three lives were cut short and many more are forever altered, after authorities say a 17-year-old unlicensed driver reportedly made the decision to attempt a pass in a No Pass Zone in Whiteville around 10 p.m. on Friday.
The youth had three other teens in his car. As he went left of center, he realized he wasn’t going to make it. He served back into his own lane, and struck the fender of the vehicle in front of him. The 78-year-old driver of that car lost control and crashed into a third car, carrying two girls, ages 8 and 13. Those two girls and 78-year-old driver died. The teen’s passengers suffered minor injuries.
Now, the 17-year-old is facing criminal charges of death by motor vehicle, driving without a license and driving left of center. Winston-Salem car accident attorneys know that as we approach summer, we can unfortunately expect to see more incidents like this, as teen drivers have more freedom, more time and less supervision than during the school year. The National Safety Counsel has identified the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the most dangerous time of year for teen drivers and their passengers.
Another 17-year-old driver from North Carolina is also facing criminal charges of death by motor vehicle, exceeding safe speeds, reckless driving and driving without a license after a crash at 4 a.m. on a Sunday that killed his 15-year-old passenger. Authorities in Jacksonville say two other teens in the back seat suffered potentially life-threatening injuries. Troopers suspect the driver was traveling between 70 and 75-miles-per-hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone.
Of course, these incidents can happen at any time during the year, but traffic safety advocates say June, July and August are by far the deadliest time period for teens on the road. The reasoning is fairly simple: For many, every day in the summer is essentially a weekend day. Parental supervision during the day is lax. Curfews get stretched. Additionally, teens tend to spend more time on “purposeless trips,” which are exponentially more dangerous than errands or driving to school.
Drunk driving deaths also increase by nearly 50 percent among teens during the summer months.
In an attempt to counter this, officials with the North Carolina Highway Patrol have been trying to reach out to teens before the end of their summer break, to drive home the message of potential risks. In 2010, the NCHP issued a report indicating that in the four years prior, 680 teens have been killed in wrecks that were investigated by troopers. Since then, troopers have started a program called Operation Drive to Live, which spotlights education for young drivers and enhanced traffic enforcement. Troopers bring this message to high schools across the state, warning youth not only of the possible dangers, but of the legal trouble they could face in such a scenario.
Given that some of the greatest risk factors for teens during this time are greater access to a motor vehicle and unstructured time, parents must really get involved in order to help reduce these incidents. Structuring more of their time off, making sure they are involved in positive activities can help address some of the issues. So too can enforcement of rules regarding number of teen passengers, curfew, alcohol consumption and other risks.
Contact the Winston-Salem injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
UPDATE: Teen driver charged in triple fatal, April 30, 2014, By Zach Hunt, WECT-6
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