Three teenagers were killed in Ridgeland and a fourth was critically injured when the vehicle in which they were traveling ran off an exit ramp on Interstate 95 and rolled over numerous times. The vehicle reportedly entered the exit ramp traveling at speeds in excess of 100 mph.
It occurred at the start of what is now widely known as the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer,” which starts Memorial Day and stretches through Labor Day. Officials coined this phrase after noting the extremely high number of motor vehicle accidents involving teenagers once school lets out and more teens are on the road.
In fact, if the last five years are any indication, we can expect at least 1,000 people to die in crashes involving teenage drivers during this three-month window. In fact, crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 19 spike substantially during this time frame, with the average number of deaths 16 percent higher than during other times of the year.
AAA reports more than 10 people die every day in teen driver accidents during the summer. That figure is based on data gleaned from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A number of studies have shown that with teenagers, distraction in general and smartphones in particular are a serious problem. One analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa this year looked at video from 2,229 dash board cameras that internally recorded teen auto accidents from August 2007 through April 2015. What they found was that 60 percent of crashes could be attributed to some type of distraction. Twelve percent of the time, that meant talking on the phone. Fifteen percent of the time, that meant talking to someone else in the car. In 11 percent of the cases, that distraction involved looking at or attending to something else in the car (i.e., radio).
In this case, it’s not clear exactly what caused the crash, but we do know the speed was a major factor in the severity of the injuries. Authorities say they were clocked traveling 109 mph. Two of those killed were 18 and a third was 17. A fourth, 18, is being treated at Savannah Memorial Hospital in critical condition. His family said he has endured multiple surgeries, but his condition is improving.
An officer reportedly clocked the vehicle at Exit 22 just before 9:30 p.m. The officer entered the highway to make a traffic stop, but was not able to initiate the stop before the driver exited the highway at Exit 10. The exit, which has a sharp, right curve, has a posted maximum speed limit of 25 mph. The driver was reportedly unable to negotiate the sharp curve. When the officer arrived on scene, he noted the roof of the vehicle was wrapped around the tree.
An initial investigation indicated none of the teens were wearing seat belts. Toxicology reports were pending. It’s also not clear who was driving.
In a case like this, the estates of those who perished as well as the surviving victim (if he was not the driver) may have grounds to pursue civil litigation against the driver/ driver’s estate for wrongful death/ personal injury. Although it’s unlikely a 17- or 18-year-old has many assets, the primary goal would be collection of insurance coverage for funeral and medical expenses.
The investigation is ongoing.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
3 teens who died in Ridgeland crash were clocked at 109 mph, police say, June 3, 2016, By Lucas High, The Island Packet
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