Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SUV collides with car in Tenn. crash, killing 5

A rural East Tennessee community was grieving Saturday for four high school cheerleaders who died in a fiery car crash hours after they had been cheering on their football team.



The 16-year-old driver of a sport utility vehicle that went out of control in rural Tennessee and caused a weekend accident that killed five people should not have been on the road, authorities said Monday. more

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Parents set the example

State Farm® released the findings of a national survey today revealing that parents unknowingly may be contributing to teens’ risky driving behaviors by not practicing what they preach. To help reduce teen driver vehicle crashes, the No. 1 killer of U.S. teens, State Farm conducted the survey to learn more about how parents approach their driver's education roles.

press release

Monday, September 22, 2008

Texting teen struck and killed by car

Tampa Bay's 10 News and the Polk County Sheriff's Office

Polk County, Florida -- A teenager texting on his cell phone was struck and killed by an oncoming car on Sunday.

Polk deputies say 18-year-old ----- and three friends were trying to cross US 27 shortly before 8 p.m., just south of the intersection on Legacy Park Boulevard.

His three friends saw a tan, 1998 Buick 4-Door traveling in the inside lane and stopped. ----, who was texting on his phone, did not see the car and stepped into the roadway. The car’s bumper struck the victim, throwing him over the hood and into the windshield.

The driver, ------, stopped immediately and called 911.

The victim was taken to Heart of Florida Hospital and later flown to Arnold Palmer Hospital where he died Monday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Presidents, candidates, and car accidents

Presidents, Presidential candidates, their families and car accidents

Limited to recent presidential participants.

*President Bush's wife Laura ran a stop sign at 17 years of age and strikes another car, killing the other driver, 17 year old Michael Dutton Douglas.

*President Bush's mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, lost her mother, Pauline Robinson, to a car crash in 1949.

*Former President Clinton, and husband of Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton, lost his father, William Jefferson Blythe Jr in a car crash in 1946.

*Presidential candidate and Senator John McCain's first wife, Carol Shepp McCain, was permanently injured after a car crash in 1969.

*Presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards lost his son, Lucius Wade Edwards, in a single vehicle accident in 1979.

*Vice Presidential candidate and Senator Joe Biden lost his first wife, Neilia Hunter, and infant daughter, Naomi “Amy” Christina Biden, to a car crash in 1972. Having just won his first seat in the Senate, friends had to talk him out of resigning and he was sworn in at the hospital, where his two sons, Beau and Hunter, were hospitalized with serious injuries.

*Former Vice President Al Gore chose not to run for President in 1992, instead staying with his 7 year old son, Al Gore III, who was in recovery after nearly losing his life in 1989, after being struck by a car.

*(addition thanks to a Neosho reader) Presidential Candidate and Senator Barack Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama lost both of his legs in a car crash and was killed in another car crash in 1982, both in Kenya.

Car crashes can affect anyone and don't play political favors.

Monday, August 25, 2008

High gas prices drive down traffic fatalities

Roll back the clock to 1961: John F. Kennedy was inaugurated president. The Peace Corps was founded. The Dow Jones industrials hit 734. Gasoline reached 31 cents a gallon.

And the number of people killed in U.S. traffic accidents that year topped 36,200.

Associated Press article here

University of Michigan report here

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cell Phone & Driving Studies

Cell Phone Use and Motor Vehicle Collisions: A Review of the Studies - the report here

Fatal Distraction? A Comparison of the Cell-phone Driver and the Drunk Driver - the study here

In 2003, researchers at the University of Utah put 41 people in driving simulators. They drove once while talking on cell phones, once while drunk. The drunks drove better.

List of some teens who have been killed while driving and texting here

Girl Driver Killed in Crash Had Been Texting

By The Associated Press

HIGHLAND, Calif. -- Authorities say a 16-year-old girl who died after losing control of her car had been texting on her cell phone moments before the accident.

-------, of Highland, was driving on the Interstate 10 Freeway in Redlands when she lost control of her car and crashed. She died of head injuries.

Authorities say ----- had been driving drunk and was speeding. But another factor may have contributed to the crash.

Phone records show ----- was texting just before the accident. Her cell phone, which was flipped open, was found resting on the floorboard by her feet.

----' mother ---- said she hopes the accident will make other people think before texting and driving.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It took a lot of pushing to get the cables that save lives


I met Warren County Coroner Roger Mauzy in August 2001, when I was covering public safety for the Post-Dispatch. We agreed to have coffee at a restaurant in Lake Saint Louis, and Mauzy wasted no time getting to the point of the meeting.

He threw down a gruesome snapshot of a fiery crash that happened in 1999. A tractor-trailer crossed Interstate 70 and smashed into a car, taking the lives of an 8-year-old St. Clair boy and his grandparents. Mauzy thought cable median barriers could help prevent such tragedies, and he was right.

And now, his hard-fought campaign may end up saving lives in more than just Missouri.

The success of Missouri's program, which began as a response to a spate of fatal crashes near Warrenton, is helping to spur a national trend for the safety devices, according to federal highway officials.

To Missouri's credit, it agreed to string the protective cable not only in Warren County but along the entire length of I-70 and all of Interstate 44 within the state too.

A total of 500 miles of barrier has been added to highways that have narrow medians, and 100 more miles are set to go up soon on Interstate 55 and U.S. Highway 67, officials said.

The barriers are effective: Statewide in 2007, fatalities caused by vehicles crossing over into oncoming traffic dropped to 10 from about 55 annually before the barriers went up. The cables aren't foolproof; three of the 10 deaths were in areas that had them.

As coroner, Mauzy hasn't had to work a crossover fatality in four years, but he isn't touting his role in the drop.

"The goal was to stop people from being killed, not to get the credit," he said.

Mauzy's modesty contradicts the fact that he basically was a thorn in MoDOT's side until the department agreed to stretch the protective barriers throughout Warren and Montgomery counties. When the barriers stopped the crashes, MoDOT agreed to put up more of them.

Mauzy, who also works as a paramedic in the county, had noticed the high number of crossover crashes even before he took office as coroner in 1997. A letter-writing campaign got nowhere, but after the crash involving the little boy, Mauzy renewed his efforts with the state.

He came up with the idea of putting memorial crosses at mile marker 191, the same spot where the crash happened. He and some other paramedics constructed 23 crosses and put the names and the dates of death on each cross. Mauzy called police, fire and EMS workers in the county, and the family of the little boy, who came to watch as Mauzy placed the crosses.

The local media showed up, and the news splash got the attention of then-state Sen. Ted House, D-St. Charles, and U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulsof, R-Columbia. They wrote letters to the highway department, and a short time later the state put up 4.5 miles of barriers.

By the time I met with Mauzy, there had been another crossover in a different spot, and he had added one more cross to the memorial.

In the next year, Mauzy added five more. After each death, he fired off a letter to the state highway department and the media, which usually got TV and newspaper coverage for the issue.

In 2002, the state agreed to put up seven more miles of the guard cable, but Mauzy didn't stop his rant.

He didn't stop the next year either, even after the state agreed to nearly 20 more miles of barriers. People were still dying, and Mauzy was up to 31 crosses at the memorial.

In the seven months between the highway department's announcement and the beginning of the work, three more people died in crossovers.

Finally, in April 2005, the state agreed to a major expansion of the barrier program, saying that it had proved to be a lifesaver.

Officials say the three strands of braided cables strung loosely on closely spaced steel posts are as effective as concrete barriers at stopping out-of-control vehicles from crossing medians. Cable barriers cost about $100,000 a mile, often less than half the expense of concrete barriers, the state said. Cables have the added advantage of grabbing and stopping vehicles, which tend to bounce off concrete barriers and re-enter traffic.

When I talked to MoDOT engineer John Miller last week, he was at a regional meeting in Memphis where cable barriers were a hot topic. Other states that have highways with 40-foot medians are thinking about erecting them, he said. Illinois officials have already put up more than 42 miles of the cable in the Metro East and are considering more.

Missouri, Miller said, was getting a lot of kudos for its proactive stance on the barriers.

"Luckily our management at MoDOT made a big commitment at the time to say we're going to move forward with this," he said.

He didn't mention Mauzy in our conversation, but I know the truth: A little county coroner took on big state government and won.

Because of Mauzy, everyone is a lot safer.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Touching Video's

A sister from Texas talks about the loss of her brother here

More personal accounts - videos here

(opinion - Too many teen driving sites, are nothing more than web sites built to make a person, an organization, or company money. The few that are 'for-profit' are usually honest about it, the 'not-for-profit' are sometimes less honest about their motivation. This site, funded by the Texas Transportation Institute, is one of the few you will find on the internet that appears to be motivated 100% about teen driving safety, without the hidden agenda of making money at it. For that alone, I would give them a lot of credit. But the site itself is one of the best on the net, on its own merits. Cuddo's to the Texas teens that got it started, and keep it running. Teens In The Drivers Seat)

Top 5 Teen Driving Risks

The five top risks for teen drivers are driving at night, distractions in the car, speeding and racing, not using seat belts, and driving under the influence, according to the Teens in the Driver Seat program in El Paso.

More teen driving facts

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2007 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment

2007 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment now online

The overall number of traffic fatalities in 2007 reached its lowest since 1994. This Annual Assessment provides highlights of the 2007 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data. Report here


The Reason Foundation's 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems measures the performance of all state-owned roads and highways from 1984 to 2006. The study calculates the effectiveness and performance of each state in 12 different categories, including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance costs, and administrative costs. rest of article here

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Safe Road Maps Review

We hear on the nightly news about traffic deaths, and it is such a regular feature, that we can find ourselves somewhat numb to the news, unless it concerns a family member or friend. I had a chance to review Even though I read news stories about trafic crashes in Missouri every day as part of research for the web site, the map for 2006 traffic fatalities was still stunning. I suggest you review it.

Go to and enter site. Click the link for Maps, and you should be here. On the right hand side of the page, select Missouri. Go to the bottom of this column and click reset map. It takes a moment for the map to load. If the map does not reload for a world view to Missouri map, then the site is not working properly (its new, they still have bugs - check back later).

If it is working, you will see our state completely covered in crash icon's. These signifying 2006 fatality crashes. If you are used to using Google Maps you know how to zoom in and check your area. If not, use the scale bar on the left of the map. Clicking the + button, will zoom the map in stages. If you are only interested in checking your immediate area, go to Safe Streets Map link and include your information.

This is one year in Missouri.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Traffic deaths fall as gas prices climb

(this was posted on 7/23 when gas was hovering around $4/gallon in Missouri. Compare the change to the number of road fatalities in the last few weeks as prices have begun to drop)

By Mark Williams
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rising prices at the gas pump appear to be having at least one positive effect: Traffic deaths around the country are plummeting, just as they did during the Arab oil embargo three decades ago.

Researchers with the National Safety Council report a 9 percent drop in motor vehicle deaths overall through May compared with the first five months of 2007, including a drop of 18 percent in March and 14 percent in April.

Preliminary figures obtained by The Associated Press show that some states have reported declines of 20 percent or more. Thirty-one states have seen declines of at least 10 percent, and eight states have reported an increase, according to the council.

No one can say definitively why road fatalities are falling, but it is happening as Americans cut back sharply on driving because of record-high gas prices.

Fewer people on the road means fewer fatalities, said Gus Williams, 52, of Albany, Ga., who frequently drives to northern Ohio. “That shows a good thing coming out of this crisis.’’ He has also noticed that many motorists are going slower.

The federal government reported in April that miles traveled fell 1.8 percent in April compared with a year earlier, continuing a trend that began in November.

Experts say a slumping economy and fuel prices have brought down the number of road fatalities in a hurry.

“When the economy is in the tank and fuel prices are high, you typically see a decline in miles driven and traffic deaths,’’ said John Ulczycki, the council’s executive director for transportation safety.

States also cite other factors such as police stepping up their pursuit of speeders and drunken drivers, as well as better teen-licensing programs, safer vehicles and winter weather that kept many drivers at home. The Governors Highway Safety Association also says seat belt use is probably at record levels and will top 90 percent in several states when figures are released later this year.

But the last time road deaths fell this fast and this sharply was during the Arab oil embargo in 1973-1974, when fatalities tumbled 17 percent, from about 55,100 to 46,000; and as states raised the drinking age to 21 in 1982-83, when fatalities fell 11 percent, from roughly 49,300 to 44,000.

Chuck Hurley, a former official with the National Safety Council and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said half of the decline in road deaths during the 1970s was attributed to high gas prices. The remainder was linked to the lowering of freeway speed limits to 55 mph.

Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia has said Congress might want to consider reimposing a national speed limit.

Hurley, now chief executive of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said gas prices have helped curb drunken driving, too.

Even considering new safety measures by states, it is now clear that, just like in the early 1970s, motorists are cutting discretionary travel and reducing the kind of late-night outings for alcohol that often lead to deadly accidents, Hurley said.

“People are going home early or stopping by a store and buying a case of beer and taking it home,’’ said Maj. Daniel Lonsdorf of the Wisconsin State Patrol.


Report indicates driver in wreck that killed sheriff’s deputy was distracted by cell phone

The driver of a car that struck and killed a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy on his bicycle was distracted by a cell phone and other electronic devices during the accident, a Kansas Highway Patrol report said.

The report indicates that inattention and failure to yield the right-of-way by the 20-year-old driver were contributing circumstances in the wreck.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Teen Turns Tragedy Into Triumph

A car accident changed his life forever

MIAMI (CBS4) ― Nick Williams was the epitome of a scholar athlete. He had a 4.58 GPA and was the captain of his volleyball team at Cardinal Gibbons. But a car accident, changed his life forever, but didn't change the heart he puts into everything he does.

"It's not a blur, it's a blank. It's a blank. I can't remember anything," Nick said about the car accident.

The accident happened on Sunday, May 4th. Early in the morning, Nick left his father's house to pick up his uncle at his mom's house to take him to the airport. The exact cause is uncertain, but while on I-95, Nick lost control of his Ford Explorer and crashed into a tree. His immediate prognosis wasn't encouraging.

Now 17, Nick is paralyzed from the waist down and has problems with short term memory. He may inspire sympathy from some when they first see him, but when one listens to him, all that is displayed is his strong spirit.

"I could easily just lay in bed and just say no, 'I'm not doing anything. I can't walk. I'm going to be sad the rest of my life,' I can't go anywhere with that. I'm not dead, I can go places now," Nick said.

rest of article

Driver's ed teacher killed in accident in Minnesota

A driver's education instructor died Tuesday after he was involved in a crash while giving a lesson. ......, 58, was riding with a 15-year-old Chisago Lakes High School student when a Chevrolet Blazer that appeared to have run a red light slammed into their vehicle's passenger side door at state Highway 8 and Pioneer Road in Chisago County, the State Patrol said.

rest of article

Monday, August 4, 2008

Morgan Freeman seriously injured in car crash


Oscar-winning U.S. actor Morgan Freeman was hospitalized in serious condition on Monday with a broken arm and other injuries after the car he was driving careened off a rural highway and rolled several times, authorities said.....

Freeman's injuries included a broken arm, a broken elbow and "minor shoulder damage," but the actor "was in good spirits when I spoke with him a short time ago" at the hospital trauma center in Memphis, his publicist, Donna Lee, told Reuters in a statement on Monday.

She said he would undergo surgery later in the day or on Tuesday "to help correct the damage." She added: "He says he'll be OK and is looking forward to a full recovery." ....

...he appeared to be headed toward his home, Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Williams said.. .... "The vehicle went off the edge of the road and flipped several times," Williams said. No other car was involved in the accident. Williams said it was "possible" that Freeman, who co-stars in the current blockbuster Batman movie "The Dark Knight," had fallen asleep at the wheel, but he added that authorities had ruled out alcohol as a factor in the wreck. ....

Link to rest of story

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Inspiring Story

Back in the saddle
Success follows paralyzing injury.

In the world of competitive sports, showing horses requires a particularly delicate touch. A rider must be in total command, and the slightest motion of the rider’s leg or a tug on the rein can cause a horse to make a mistake.

So that makes the fact that Rock Bridge High School graduate Cara Walker is a world champion today all the more amazing.

Because of a car accident and resulting neck injury, Walker, 19, has no feeling in her left leg.

Rest of Article

Free Background Checks on the Internet

I recently came across an article written by a woman, who was sharing with female readers how to check up on pending "blind dates", using the free internet. While the article's intent was great, the links the writer gave were not the best available. Here are some good links for checking up on people online.

Zaba Search - find people across the US

Case Net - find Missouri present and past court cases using a person's name, or business name.

Neighborhood Criminal Check - check your zip code for individual's with criminal backgrounds

Someone away on a trip? - Check the MODOC offender guest list

Sex Offender Map - local sheriff's department sites sometimes carry a more reliable map

Yoname - sometimes successful in tracking by name or screename

Thursday, July 31, 2008

New State Teen Driving Laws

Politics In Color

California and Washington state will follow the lead of a handful of other states and prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones while on the road, but will allow headsets. California teens can’t use their cell phones at all when driving. Anyone who violates the new laws risks a $76 fine for the first offense in California, and a $124 fine in Washington. Other states with similar laws are Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Utah as well as Washington, D.C.

In the first six months of holding a new license, Arizona teens can’t drive between midnight and 5 a.m. and cannot have more than one other teen in the car who is not a relative. After similar laws in Connecticut and Minnesota take effect Aug. 1, only three remaining states will have no restrictions on newly licensed drivers: Arkansas, Kansas and North Dakota.

New Connecticut Teen Driving Laws

Connecticut Post

The following are changes in state laws affecting 16- and 17-year-old drivers beginning Friday.


  • Required for 16- and 17-year-olds, vision and knowledge test required.
  • Must complete an eight-hour safe driving course and 40 hours of practice driving with a licensed instructor or person at least 20 years old.
  • No other passengers for first three months. After three months, may have immediate family as passengers.
  • Must have permit for 180 days before applying for a license (20 days with completed driver training course).


  • No passengers first three months except parents, legal guardian, licensed driving instructor, or a person at least 20 years old, licensed for at least four years (with no suspensions).
  • During the next three months, may have immediate family members as passengers.


  • No cell phones (including hands-free devices) or mobile electronic devices while driving.
  • No driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for employment, school, religious activities or for a medical emergency.
  • Each passenger must wear a seat belt.


  • Immediate 48-hour suspension for 16- and 17-year-old drivers for violating driving restrictions, driving 20 mph or more over posted limit, driving under the influence, driving recklessly or racing a motor vehicle on a public highway.
  • Police will seize the license and it will automatically be suspended for 48 hours. In addition, police are authorized to remove the vehicle from the scene.
  • In order to regain possession of the license after 48 hours, the teen and their parent or guardian must go to the police station and sign a written statement acknowledging license has been returned.
  • After conviction of a first offense, license suspension ranges from 30 days to six months, depending on the seriousness of the violation. Suspensions increase for all second and subsequent offenses.
  • After suspension, driver must pay a $125 license restoration fee.

New Minnesota Teen Driving Laws

Courtesy Pioneer Press 7/30/08

Hey, teenage drivers, traffic texters and concertgoers, there's something for each of you in the new Minnesota laws. A host of new laws take effect Friday, and that means Minnesotans must make adjustments. Some will be large, some small. Read on for a selection of the new statutes and how they might affect you:

At The Wheel

If you send or read text messages or e-mails while you are driving, stop! Such multi-tasking will now be a petty misdemeanor.

If you are a teen with a new driver's license, for the first six months of driving you can have only one passenger — unless a parent or guardian is along. You can't drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless you have a licensed passenger age 25 or older or are driving to or from a school event or work. You can't have more than three passengers younger than 20 unless you have a parent or guardian along. .....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dangers of Newspaper Forum's

There is an old saying that "it is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt". Thanks to modern technological advances, the anonymity of the web offers anyone with a thought, an avenue to spew their wit and wisdom for others to read. Some may well think this site is nothing but, and this great country offers you the right to have that opinion. This webmaster would like to go on record as saying that those who feel it is necessary to start passing judgment in media forum's about teen crashes, are similar to the hit and run driver, who cowardly flees a scene after leaving devastation in their wake. Family members, reeling in shock and grief, do not need to read the speculation and opinion's by anonymous parties on why their child perished. You have the right to write anything you want, but class dictates there is a time, and a place to express these type's of opinion's .... and some are best left to ones self. Family members - forum's on media sites are a place where some of the most callous and heartless people, hiding behind the protective anonymity their fictitious screen name offers, will spew some of the most insensitive garbage possible. Do yourself a favor. Avoid newspaper forum's.

Quoting statistics

Be careful quoting statistics from any website, including this one. Verify what you can. Once something is in print, no matter how erroneous, it will be repeated and soon become accepted as fact.

For instance, which of these statements appearing on government or news media websites, are true, and which have been "fabricated"? 1. A teenager is killed in a car crash every 64.5 minutes. 2. Teenage drunk driving is the cause of one quarter of all motor vehicle accidents 3. One teen is killed in the United States every 60 minutes because of teen drunk driving. 4. In 2005, approximately 3467 teens were killed and 281000 more injured. 5. According to historical data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in eight teens is likely to drive after drinking alcohol this holiday season, and 30 percent of American teens this month will ride with a driver who has been drinking alcohol. Additionally, statistics show that in 2003, 27 percent of 16- to 20-year-old passenger vehicle drivers fatally injured in crashes had blood alcohol levels of 0.08 percent or more, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 6. In 2005, approximately 3,467 teens were killed and 281,000 more suffered injuries due to driving under the influence. 7. Teenage drunk driving is responsible for about one in every four motor vehicle accidents. 8. Every year, more American teenagers die in car wrecks than any other way. Nationally, that number was 5,610 fatalities in 2004. 9. A teenager is injured in a car crash every 55 seconds. A teenager is killed in a car crash every 6.5 minutes.

(It is quite obvious that #3 & #9, although widely used, are not possibly true, using the figures in #4, which is a government published figure, or #8.. #1 might have been true years ago, but with 8760 hours in a year, you can do the math. #6 blames every teen fatality recorded in drunk driving!! #7 is just absurd. The message to teens is real ... please don't cloud it with bogus 'facts'. If you expect teens to drive like adults, respect them with the truth. And if you find something wrong on our site, please let us know. We don't need to make up facts to make teens dieing in car crashes worse than they already are.)

Fatality Road Map

A new site went live today, or at least tried. It got so much media attention that the site spent much of the day unreachable. In fact, now that I have a chance to try, I am unable to get on and see their map. When it works, it is supposed to provide a Google map that allows users to check which routes experience the most deadly traffic crashes.

When it works, you can find it at SafeRoad Maps If I can ever get on, I may do a follow-up report.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stories in the US media

Associated Press
Montana town loses 4 teens, their athletic hopes

Denton, Mont. (AP) — Here in rural Montana, the long roads stretch to the horizon over rolling hills covered with wheat. Drivers casually lift a hand off the wheel to greet oncoming drivers, whether they recognize the car or not.Teenagers start driving as early as 15, because it's usually a long way to where you want to go. And they almost always play high school sports, mostly because there is little else to do in a small town.

So on July 19, four boys piled into a car to play in a summer basketball tournament in a neighboring town. On the way, the car crashed, rolled and burned. Police say no speeding or dangerous driving was involved, and they still aren't sure why the car caught fire.

The wreck killed brothers Kale and Kade Phelps, as well as fellow players Jace Jelinek and Dayne Heble. The oldest was 17, the youngest 14. They were 10 percent of Denton High's student body.

Charlotte Observer
3 Students Killed In Stanly Wreck

Three Albemarle High School students were killed and another teen was injured in a two-vehicle, high-speed wreck late Thursday night in Stanly County. A spokeswoman for the Stanly County Schools says the three were members of the school's football team and were rising seniors.

Tevis Swaringen was driving the car. Justin Cowen was sitting in the front passenger seat and Andrico Lilly was in the back seat. All three were 17 and died at the scene of the crash on N.C. 138 near Kimrey Road, about three miles south of Albemarle.

The collision happened about 11:45 p.m., and troopers said speed was a factor. The Highway patrol estimated that the car with all the victims was traveling about 80-85 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. The car took a curve too fast and overcorrected, causing the accident. Neither weather nor alcohol were factors.

Richmond Times-Dispatch
Two Teens Die In Car Crash

Two Williamsburg teenagers died early yesterday in a single-car crash in James City County, police said. Thomas B. Karafa, 18, the driver, and Robert P. McCormack, 16, the passenger, were traveling north on Centerville Road, less than a mile south of Jolly Pond Road, when the car ran off the left side of the road and struck a drainage ditch at 2:30 a.m., police said. They died at the scene. They were not wearing seat belts, police said.

Fox 8
Combined Funeral Mass for 2 Strongsville Teens

The funeral for 18-year-old Samantha Archer and her boyfriend 16-year-old Marco Dadante was held at St. Joseph Church, located at 12700 Pearl Rd. in Strongsville. Following the mass, both Archer and Dadante were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. A seemingly endless stream of friends and family, stunned by the tragic loss, lined up at viewing hours Thursday from 3 to 11 p.m. at St. Joseph Church.

The accident took place Sunday in Hinkley. Samantha, a recent graduate of Strongsville High School, and Marco, a Strongsville High student, were heading westbound on Bellus Road in Archer's 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse. According to police, a vehicle heading eastbound, driven by 21-year-old ----- of Hinckley, went left of center and struck Archer's vehicle head on.

Three E's of Reducing Teen Traffic Related Deaths

Part One - National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker told the Association for Safe International Road Travel on June 16th that an emphasis on the three E's of traffic safety, education, enforcement and engineering solutions would further reduce traffic fatalities. So how are we doing in Missouri?

#1 Education. The responsibility of teaching teens to drive in Missouri is, in most school districts, left to the parents. Once a mandatory class in many high school's, most school districts have eliminated driver's training because of budget restraints. This has left the responsibility of training with parents, who must either train them on there own, or to pay a driving school to do it. Many parents will confess they are ill equipped to perform what can be a harrowing experience. As more hours have been added, with recent changes to the graduated drivers license, more requirements have been put on parents. As one person put it in an AAA release, we require more hours of training to cut hair or clean teeth, than we do to drive a car. It would be easy just to say we need to return the class to our high schools, but that is only half of the story. I graduated in the last 70's from a then mid size suburb high school. I do not remember if the driver's training class was mandatory at the time, or not, but I did take it. And in hindsight, it was kind of a joke.

Taught by a high school sports coach, possibly as a requirement at the time, that coaches may have had to be teachers, it was quite obvious the coach/teacher had no desire to be there. Behind the wheel training was limited to three 45 minute classes, time split with two other teens, in an especially equipped car where the coach had his own brake to push, if needed. Much of this incredibly limited driving time, was training to pass the most difficult part of the driver's test, parallel parking. A task I was able to master quickly (I took my test in a station wagon) and a driving skill I have been called on to use once in the 32 years since. And for those of us waiting our day to drive with the teacher, the class was no more than an unsupervised study hall. So I reiterate, just simply returning driver's education to the school systems, is only part of the story. To properly train teens, not only should we make driver's education a mandatory class, but we must find passionate teachers who truly want to make a difference. Would you rather your teen learn from the football coach, who might have a degree in teaching, or a certified driving instructor? Or an ex-cop, who knows what it is like to knock on a door at night and deliver the most dreaded of messages to unsuspecting parents?

How do we pay for it? Well I guess we can forget all that "the lottery will pay for all our schools needs" nonsense. An idea for consideration. Besides families and friends, who has the most to gain/lose in traffic crashes? Even a fender bender can run into thousands of dollars in damages. And who pays for this? Insurance companies. Has anyone considered asking the insurance companies to fund staff for school systems? We live in a give and take world, so obviously they have to get something out of it. Offer them compulsory attendance backed by the state, a majority voice in setting up the training, testing, and certification, although them to hire and train their instructors, with schools allowed to run criminal history checks. It would not be an independent insurance company, but a consortium of all insurance companies selling auto insurance in the state. Schools would provide classroom space, and scheduling allocation, and be offered proper credit for the time the teens are in this class, pursuant to any other educational requirements made by the state. Obviously, the school must be given some limited control, it is they who inevitably must answer to the parents. The schools must also be offered full immunity from any liability involved with this class. There are other numerous issues, but given the proper motivation, these issues should be easily worked thru. Everybody could get something out of it if they kept teen safety as the primary goal. You may not have a teen driver in your family, but I can guarantee if you are driving on Missouri roads, teen drivers are passing you in the oncoming lane each and every trip. Want them to stay in their lane?

If the politicians, educators, and insurance companies started talking about it today, we could see drivers ed back in our schools by 2010. Then again, not too sure how politicians, educators and insurance companies get along in this state, so it would probably be easier just to forget the whole idea. What are we talking here? The life of a couple hundred teens each year?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why the blog?

I have been operating Operation Stop for nearly 3 years now and occasionally, I come across news items that I would like to comment on, or just didn't quite warrant making it on the web site. Here we will discuss things like the "politics" behind car crashes. We might look at incidents in greater detail, if we feel it can assist in the overall discussion. And we might address other issues of interest to Missouri teens, or Missourians in general. Much of what is expressed on this blog might be classified as personal opinion, and personal opinions are much like armpits. Everyone has a couple, they serve no real purpose, and only we think our own don't stink.

It also offers readers an opportunity to participate. You are free to post comments, as long as it is done respectfully ... both to the forum, and to the families and friends of victims. These people are hurting and do not care what you, or I might think of why their loved one died. If you are posting in reference to a particular crash, please note that it is our policy to name only the deceased in a crash, and to NOT name others that might be hurt or responsible. While these names might be public record, it is our own policy to keep these names off the site, and this blog.

Please drive like your life depends on it - because it does!!

By taking credit, you accept responsibility

I recently read a newspaper article from Southeast Missouri, where an officer with the Highway Patrol was quoted as stating his department's strong enforcement was responsible for the decrease in deaths over the last holiday weekend. Traffic fatalities are down in most parts of the state, thanks to the concerted efforts of thousands of law enforcement officers, transportation workers, traffic safety engineers, vehicle safety engineers, emergency workers, the list goes on and on. This year, the decline is dramatic in most states thanks in a large part, to the increased price of gas. Less miles are being driven nationwide, according to every study published in the last few months. Only two other years have seen such a steep decline in traffic fatalities ... during the oil embargo and the two year period when states were required to raise the drinking age to 21.

The Missouri Highway Patrol is an outstanding organization and is to be credited for their part in the reduction in fatalities. But anyone taking credit when the numbers are favorable, must assume the responsibility when they are less so.

Last Lecture

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch gave his last university lecture in Sept 2007, before a packed auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own personal goals. At the time, Professor Pausch knew he was dying from cancer, and on July 25th, he passed away. One of the most inspiring lectures you will ever hear - video here