The 21-year-old’s family couldn’t wait to welcome the new life. A preschool teacher seven months pregnant with her first child, a son, the young woman was busying herself for a new routine of diapers and bottles.
Instead, her family has had to bury them both, following a horrific South Carolina car accident that tragically claimed both of their lives in Greenwood County recently, about an hour outside of Greenville.
Behind the wheel of the other vehicle, authorities say, was a 17-year-old driver who was reportedly drunk. One of his passengers was also killed as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. He was reportedly riding with two other juveniles and an adult at the time of the crash.
So far, he has been criminally charged with two felony counts of driving under the influence.
This case is so deeply troubling because it didn’t have to happen. It was 100 percent preventable.
We are reaching a point in the year when ritualistic drinking among teens heightens, and we fear more of these kinds of crashes will be on the horizon. There are homecoming football games and formal dances, approaching holidays and extended school breaks.
Although alcohol consumption is illegal for those under 21, that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible. Many teens view drinking at or prior to such events as a right of passage. They do so without parental guidance. Their judgment becomes impaired and it doesn’t help that they are vastly inexperienced behind the wheel.
In 2011, it was reported that 107 people died in South Carolina as a result of crashes in which a teenager was driving.
In recent years, there have been laws passed with the intention of curbing these incidents. Although depictions in scenes like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “American Graffiti” feature teen drivers piling as many friends into their ride as will fit, that is increasingly no longer allowed.
In fifteen states and the District of Columbia, teens aren’t allowed to drive with another teenager in the vehicle. Other states (including South Carolina) bar them from having more than one passenger under the age of 21, unless they are driving to and from school. South Carolina also bars unsupervised nighttime driving between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the winter, and between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the summer.
Some have complained that such legislative moves have “effectively outlawed the double date.”
However, teens’ risk of of a crash rises by nearly 45 percent with one passenger in the vehicle. It quadruples when that same driver has three or more teen passengers in the vehicle. What’s more, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and two thirds of teen passenger deaths happen in vehicles driven by other teenagers.
Research has shown that teens tend to overrate their driving skills and underrate the risks of the road. They tend to have more trouble multitasking.
Parents can play a role in helping to reduce the incidence of teen crashes by engaging their children in conversations about the dangers of drinking and driving. Sometimes parents think, “Kids will be kids,” but the truth of the matter is, your children are listening more than you think.
For more information on how to open the discussion, visit the site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you or a loved one is involved in a South Carolina car accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid, exclusive of case costs.
Expectant mom killed, teen charged after Greenwood crash, Sept. 28, 2013, By Dal Kalsi, Fox Carolina
More Blog Entries:
North Carolina Car Insurance – Myths & Misconceptions, Aug. 2, 2013, Greenville Car Accident Lawyer Blog