Keeping Your Teens Safe During The “100 Deadliest Days” for Teen Drivers This Summer
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on June 6th, 2012
This is one of the happiest times of the year for many teenagers as high school graduations, graduation celebrations and summer vacations fill their calendars and they begin to prepare for college and the rest of their lives.
Sadly, though, the time between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays is also considered “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers, according to the group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
“According to AAA, an average of 399 teens died in traffic crashes during each of the summer months (May-August), compared to a monthly average of 346 teen deaths during non-summer months,” MADD recently reported on its Web site. “The seven most dangerous days on the road for teens during summer are May 20, May 23, June 10, July 4, July 9, Aug. 8 and Aug. 14.”
Tragically, an early-morning car crash in Columbia Station, Ohio, on Sunday claimed the lives of four teenagers, including two who were to graduate from high school that day, when the car they were riding went airborne and overturned, according to a story in The (Elyria,Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram.
“Jeffrey Chaya, 18, was driving his 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier west on Boston Road, east of Boone Road, at 12:11 a.m. when he lost control of the vehicle after it crossed a railroad track and went airborne, according to a news release from the Elyria post of the Ohio Highway Patrol,” the paper reported. “The vehicle went off the right side of the road, then Chaya overcorrected and went off the left side of the road before the car he was driving struck a ditch and a tree and overturned back on the road, resting upside down.”
“Chaya, front seat passenger Blake Bartchak, 17, and backseat passenger Lexi Poerner, 16, died in the crash,” the paper reported. “Backseat passenger Kevin Fox, 18, was ejected from the car. He was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. He died Monday morning.”
A 17-year-old girl was also injured but her condition has not been released, the paper stated.
The crash remains under investigation, but police told the paper that “high speed was a factor.”
Seniors Chaya and Fox were both due to graduate on Sunday. Poerner, Bartchak and Romito are all juniors at Brunswick High School, the paper said.
The crash came just hours before the two boys were to graduate with their classmates at Brunswick High School, according to a story in The (Cleveland) The Plain Dealer.
The tragedy should remind us all that we need to take the time to talk with our teens about the dangers of driving and how they need to be extra aware and cautious when they are enjoying celebrations and other life milestones. The danger is that teens can take on a sense that they are impervious to danger, especially if they are partying with friends and involving themselves with alcohol or drugs.
They may not be old enough to legally consume alcohol, but sadly that doesn’t mean they won’t get it or consume it.
In the Ohio crash, police are still investigating whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the deadly incident.
So what can parents do to keep their teens safe?
MADD offers a list of suggestions from AAA Insurance, including:
- Eliminate trips without purpose.
- Limit passengers. Fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present versus when teens drive alone.
- Restrict night driving. A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles at night.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement. Written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more.
- Enroll teens in summer driving school.
- Be there. Make sure your teen knows that if they need help, advice or a ride, they can call you at any time. Extend this offer often and let your teen know that you are always available, and that they will not be judged or punished should they need your help.
MADD also suggests that parents really talk to their children about alcohol, its risks and its dangers:
- Talk about alcohol. Use MADD’s Power of Parents handbook to talk with your teens about not drinking alcohol until they are 21 and to remind them to never get into a car with someone who has been drinking.
- Buckle up. Insist on seat belts at all times and in all seating positions. Low seat belt use is one of the primary reasons that teen driver and passenger fatality and injury rates remain high.
High school graduations, summer vacations with friends, graduation parties and other rites of passage are incredibly important events in the lives of our children, but such happy events can turn tragic in just an instant.
Let us all take the time to remind our children of such dangers and encourage them to make smarter and safer decisions this summer and all year round.
Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the teens who were killed and injured in Sunday’s senseless car crash in Ohio.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer hope that the tragic deaths of these young people can somehow help prevent similar tragedies in the future.