Monday, February 16, 2009

Air travel has never been safer, but . . .

We can count on more regulations. It is a tragedy that 50 people died in last week's crash near Buffalo, NY. And yet thousands die every year on the highways. . . many because we don't have the will to raise the legal driving age even two years. Auto collisions are the leading cause of death among teens, killing about 4,000 a year. And it isn't just teens. Any person in a car with a teen driver is in much more danger than from birds sucked into airplane engines or ice on the wings. If we did nothing else but forbid teen drivers to have passengers, thousands of lives could be saved. Do those families not grieve? Are those people less important than people who boarded a commuter plane?

"The AAA Foundation analysis shows that from 1995 through 2004 crashes involving 15, 16, and 17-year-old drivers claimed the lives of 30,917 people nationwide, of which only 11,177 (36.2%) were the teen drivers themselves. The remaining 19,740 (63.6%) included 9,847 passengers of the teen drivers, 7,477 occupants of other vehicles operated by drivers at least 18 years of age, 2,323 non-motorists. The analysis also shows that 12,413 of these fatalities occurred in single vehicle crashes involving only the vehicle operated by the teenage driver.

In 1999, 16- and 17-year-old teens driving with no passengers were involved in 1.6 accidents per 10,000 trips, yet the rate rises to 2.3 accidents with one passenger, 3.3 accidents with two passengers, and sharply rises to 6.3 accidents with three or more passengers in the car." More statistics on teen drivers here.

During the last ice storm a teenager wrecked his dad's new red sports car by slamming into the light pole at our condo entrance (it's a 35 mph street but I'm guessing from the damage he was speeding). I think the car was totaled, and it was weeks before the red pieces were cleaned up because the snow plows had buried much of the debris. I hope daddy has learned a lesson, because fortunately the boy survived without serious injuries. The car can be replaced; the child can't be. He will live to drive again--much wiser I hope.

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