The recent tragic accident in which one Wood County teenager was killed and four others critically injured forever changed the lives of these families.
The accident occurred the Friday night of the beginning of the three-day Memorial Day weekend in Wirt County and is being investigated by the West Virginia State Police. State Police public relations officer Sgt. Michael Baylous said speed and alcohol may have played parts in the accident; he would not speculate until an investigation is completed.
We will not speculate whether or not alcohol played a part in this tragedy. But one thing is certain, now that school is out and kids have more time on their hands, the potential for this type of tragedy will increase.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released a study on teen driving. The group, a nonprofit research and education organization, looked at crash data from 2007 to 2010 and concluded the likelihood a 16- or17-year-old driver would be killed in a crash increased with each additional young passenger in the vehicle.
The report, "Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers," and its findings are not a surprise. In fact, "it confirms what we have known for a long time," the foundation's president and chief executive J. Peter Kissinger told the New York Times. "When peers are passengers in cars with 16 and 17-year-old drivers, it's a dangerous mix," he said.
The foundation's report indicates the 25 states with graduated driver licensing - not permitting teen drivers to have more than one passenger during the first six months after they receive their license - have seen the number of crashes drop by 53 percent.
West Virginia is a graduated licensing state, with restrictions on the number of passengers a new driver can carry until the age of 17 when there are no restrictions. Again it is not known who was driving this vehicle or how old that driver was.
Obviously, teenagers are not the only dangerous drivers on the road. Many adult drivers have little respect for other drivers they meet on the highways. However, in most cases these drivers are rude and not inexperienced.
Parents can help keep their young driver safe by demanding to know where their children are going and how many passengers will be with them. We hope no more families have to experience the tragedy of what happened over Memorial Day weekend.