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How can we prevent the carnage?

Car accidents are the number one killer of teenagers in the United States. Promising and precious lives can be lost, or forever changed, when our teenagers take the wheel. Speeding while distracted seems to be more common among teenage drivers, and this behavior often results in permanent disfigurement, or even worse, a fatal car crash.

Consider the case of Rianna Woolsey. Rianna had everything to live for. She was 16 and on the varsity song squad at Tesoro High School. Today, she might have been in college if it hadn’t been for the accident. Rianna was speeding along a major street in her Coto de Caza neighborhood when she lost control of her Volkswagen Jetta, crashed into a tree, and then died at the hospital a few hours later.

Ironically, Rianna was on her way to a song squad Christmas party when she lost control of her car. Could she have been distracted while talking on her cell phone? Or even worse, could she have been text messaging on her phone when she lost control? No one knows the answer, but a very promising life was extinguished that day in December of 2005. Now Rianna’s MySpace site sits frozen in time, but her friends and family have continued to monitor the site where Rianna has received over 700 messages since her death from all over the country as memorial to this smiling and vibrant young lady.

Then there is Nikki Kunkle, a 16-year-old Campbell High School student from Atlanta, Georgia. “I remember it just being silent”, Nikki said, about her near fatal traffic accident. Then Nikki remembered, “When we rolled, my window was shattered, and I realized that my arm had been severed”. Nikki was a passenger in a car driver by a fellow student, who was speeding down the back road to the high school trying to avoid being late to class. Nikki just got her new prosthetic arm .

So what can we do?

I propose that we change our laws granting driving privileges to: 1) The minimum age of drivers to 17 for driving alone or with an adult over 25; 2) Minimum one year of being licensed or 21 before driving with anyone unless accompanied by an adult over 25; and 3) The adult over 25 be equally legally responsible as the driver for any “driving with a measurable amount of alcohol”, excessive speeding or reckless driving violations and damages.

What are you suggestions as to what we can do to improve the driving safety record of our teenage drivers?

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