A tragic accident recently took the lives of three young men and critically injured another in Brooks County, Georgia. Before saying more, I want to express my sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in a fatal crash in the city of Quitman in southeast Georgia. There is nothing more tragic than the loss of young life. In my work as a Gwinnett County injury lawyer, I have represented the families of loved ones who have suffered serious or fatal injuries.
What we know thus far is that four Brooks County High School football players were traveling to an early morning practice when their car veered off the road and hit a tree. Three of the high school students were killed and one was ejected from the vehicle and was airlifted to a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.
The high school’s football team is reported to have completed its best season on record. It also won its region last season as well. One of the players who passed away in this crash was an all-region player.
There is a tragic familiarity of this crash with others around the country in which teens riding together in a vehicle are at a higher risk of death or injury than when they drive alone. The road departure nature of this crash is also all too common with teen drivers.
Sadly, we know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens. The statistics should be a concern for every parent of a teenager. In the past few years, an average of seven teens (ages 16-19) lost their lives every single day in our country and nearly 3,000 lose their lives annually in motor vehicle crashes.
Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control advise that vehicle crashes are preventable. We know that the highest risk is for teens between the ages of 16- to 19 and that after age 20 the statistics improve. Until the age of 20 however, male drivers and passengers are most at risk.
In addition, other teens in the vehicle increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. And younger drivers have a greater risk of properly estimating the dangers involved in any given hazardous situation. Anticipating risk is also an area of difficulty for teen drivers. For example, teens leave less distance between their vehicle and the one ahead especially when other teens are in the vehicle.
Use of seat belts and speeding are two common additional risks that teens will take when driving. Unfortunately, teen use of alcohol and distracted driving have also become contributing factors for motor vehicle crash teen deaths and serious injury.
Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems, such as that enacted and in force in Georgia, delay full licensure and provide teens a chance to gain driving experience under proven low-risk conditions. Parents can help immensely in this area by learning about the GDL requirements and entering into the parent-teen contract available on Georgia’s Department of Driver Services website.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, help is available. Please call me for a free consultation about your legal rights and what can be done to help you recover from your injuries.