The news in Philadelphia last night and this morning recounts another tragedy that took the lives of two teenagers, Robert Michael Melson and Casey John Russo. Both boys had just finished tenth grade last Thursday.
From the account in the Inquirer, it was almost a “perfect storm” of well-known risk factors for unsafe teen driving:
- male driver
- 16 year old, new driver who had just gotten his “junior” or restricted license
- driving with a peer in the car
- had just left a party
- was trying to get home ahead of 11:00 p.m. – the hour after which he couldn’t drive with that license
- crossed the double yellow line to pass a carload of fellow teenagers
- driver and passenger were not wearing seat belts
As lawyers whose cases often follow tragedies like this, we are all too familiar with the pain that the surviving families will bear for the rest of their lives.
I urge any parent of a teen driver to go to the website for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ( http://stokes.chop.edu/programs/injury/) . This is a great resource with as much detailed information as any parent or new driver could ask for to help raise the awareness of the risks of teen driving.
Every time I speak on this subject, I repeat my mantra: if there were a disease killing over 5,000 young people a year, the efforts nationwide to fight that disease would be astounding, but we aren’t doing enough to find a “cure” for this problem. If it were a disease, nobody would rest until a cure or effective treatment had been identified. I just don’t understand why we don’t have a similar campaign to make the streets safe for our teen drivers.
Please, take a moment and have a conversation with your teen driver to begin the process of educating him or her about the risks. You’ll be glad you took the time.