Two teenagers – described by loved ones as “good friends” – were killed in a one-car crash in House Springs recently, after officers say the 18-year-old driver’s vehicle skidded off the roadway, struck a row of trees and flipped. The crash occurred shortly after 10 p.m. on a Saturday night. He and his 15-year-old friend were pronounced dead at the scene.
Accident attorneys in Missouri are concerned we may be seeing more serious crashes involving teen drivers and passengers in the coming weeks and months, with the combination of spring break celebrations, prom preparations and graduation parties.
It’s been well-established that teens are the most at-risk group of drivers on the road. Their inexperience combined with their greater propensity to take risks often puts them in grave danger.
Missouri licensing laws designed to bolster teen driver experience, reduce crashes
One of the ways that the state of Missouri has worked to mitigate these risks is with graduated driver’s license laws. These start with instruction permits available for 15-year-olds who pass a driver’s knowledge, road sign and vision test. These drivers may not drive unless a parent, legal guardian, grandparent or qualified driving instructor is seated in the front seat.
By age 16, drivers can qualify for an intermediate license, which bars driving between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and for the first six months, disallows more than one non-family passenger under the age of 19. Beyond that, teen drivers can have no more than three under-19 passengers in the vehicle at a given time.
Unfortunately, we don’t believe the law goes far enough, at least with regard to the number of teen passengers. A study conducted last year by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute indicates that drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 are eight times more likely to be involved in a deadly wreck when they are carrying two or more teen passengers. Drivers under the age of 19 are three times more likely to die in a crash, and traffic fatalities are the No. cause of death for those in this age group.
It’s imperative parents take the time to work with their children and help them to cultivate better driving habits.
If your teen or college student is planning on taking a trip for spring break, make sure to review the following:
- If a road trip is involved, make sure the vehicle is in good working condition to safely endure an extensive distance.
- If you find yourself increasingly tired during the drive, either trade-off drivers or stop for the night. A night at a motel is far cheaper than the potential costs of falling asleep while driving.
- Spring break is not an excuse to drink or to drink excessively. Those under-21 shouldn’t be drinking at all. More importantly, no one who has been drinking should be behind the wheel of a car. Better to call a taxi, seek public transportation or walk.
- Do not allow anyone to drink inside your vehicle. This may leave you vulnerable to a citation for an open container violation. What’s more, a passenger who is increasingly intoxicated can also be increasingly distracting.
Missouri accident victims should contact the offices of Tolbert Beadle and Musgrave LLC at 1-800-887-4030.