On Monday, October 17, 2011, three teens were involved in a fatal car accident in Bloomfield, Kentucky. The accident report states the 17-year-old driver was going east on Old Bloomfield Road after school when she lost control of the car, causing it to go off the right side of the road. The driver over-corrected, sending the car across the center line and into the ditch where it rolled over multiple times before stopping. The driver’s sister, who was located in the back seat, was pronounced dead at the scene. A friend riding in the front seat was ejected from the car and remains hospitalized with head trauma and other injuries. The driver’s injuries were moderate.
Police are investigating the crash to determine the cause. Alcohol is unlikely, especially in light of the fact that the students had just been released from school for the day. Speed is being considered but has not been established as the cause. The hilly, curvy road may have contributed to the accident, as police and those who live in the area both say it is dangerous and has claimed lives in other accidents. Whatever the cause, it is important to note that the one who was least injured, the driver, was wearing her seatbelt. The others were not. This tragic accident again highlights the importance of seatbelt use.
Ironically, the week this accident occurred was also National Teen Driver Safety Week. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) took part in Safety Week and continues to raise Kentucky teens’ awareness of the dangers of driving throughout the year. One of the largest contributors to teenage driving accidents is distraction. KOHS uses a Distracted Driving Simulator to show teens how dangerous distracted driving is by allowing them to talk or text on a cell phone while they attempt to drive safely in the simulator. Director Bill Bell says “All too often, the devices are winning and our kids our losing, with tragic results.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 691 fatalities in 2009 were caused by a distracted teen driver.
Distractions are not the only cause of teen accidents. There are many other causes and ways for teens to stay safe on the road.
• Always fasten your seatbelt and make sure your passengers fasten theirs too. The number of passengers should be limited to the number of seatbelts in the vehicle (or the number restricted by state law for younger teen drivers).
• Keep your vehicle maintained, including the tires and windshield. Tires that are bald or improperly inflated can contribute to accidents. Dirty windshields can make it difficult to see the road, signs, and other vehicles around you.
• Be aware of those around you. Always check the intersection to make sure it is clear before proceeding on a green light. Watch for motorcycles and bicyclists that may be more difficult to see. Watch for other drivers who are not driving safely and may run red lights or turn improperly. Keep a safe distance from erratic drivers who may be under the influence or distracted.
• Slow down in inclement weather. Rain and snow can make the pavement slippery and impair visibility. Watch for potholes that have formed after cold, wet weather.
• Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Deaths caused by teen drivers have been declining for the last nine years. Keeping these tips in mind will help to continue to reduce the number of these fatalities. However, if you or someone you know is involved in a serious car accident, help is available. Please contact florida criminal defense lawyer Steven Frederick for assistance.