Fatal accident highlights hazards teen drivers face

Speed and alcohol were believed to be factors in a recent Colorado Springs car crash that killed two high school students, left another seriously injured and could lead to the driver being charged as an adult for vehicular homicide.

The one-car crash occurred early on Labor Day morning at the intersection of Hodgen Road and Roller Coaster Road. According to Fox 31 Denver, a 2009 Mini Cooper driven by a 17-year-old male from Parker (whose identify has not been released) was speeding eastbound on East Baptist Assembly Road and ran a stop sign at Roller Coaster Road. The car then went airborne as it crossed the intersection, spun off the north side of the road, crossed a ditch and struck a tree.

The three passengers were all students at Palmer Ridge High School. Two of the passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. The Gazette reports that the 17-year-old driver previously attended Palmer Ridge and had returned to town for a holiday visit.

“It’s obviously not the way we wanted to start the year … but we’ll get through it,” said Palmer Ridge Principal Gary Gabel. “It’ll impact the school and the community for a long time.”

“Senior year is going to be a lot different now,” said student body president Ryan Best at a vigil for the two students who died in the wreck. “Having them gone is going to be one of the hardest things to happen to me, to everyone in that crowd.”

An editorial in The Gazette laments the loss of the outgoing, friendly and athletic teens to a “deadly crash that probably could and should have been prevented.”

“Movies, music, TV and even roadside billboards promote alcohol as an essential ingredient of relaxation and fun,” reads the editorial. “Throw in Colorado’s embrace of recreational marijuana and Colorado parents face an unprecedented challenge in keeping their kids healthy and alive.”

Car Crashes Leading Cause of Death for Young People

For all young people ages 5 to 34 in the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of mortality, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young people, moreover, are over represented in drunk driving and speed-related crashes.

More than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2012, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On its website, NHTSA says that teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population. Nineteen percent of all alcohol-related fatal crashes in 2012 involved 16-20 year olds, but as NHTSA notes, people in this age group are below the legal drinking age.

Teens also tend to be unrestrained in fatal crashes, NHTSA says. One of the passengers who died after being ejected from the vehicle in the Colorado Springs accident was not wearing his seatbelt.

Speeding may not be as salient of a teen-safety issue as drunk driving, USA Today points out, but it’s on the rise based on the results of a report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. The report found that speeding was a factor in 33 percent of fatal teen crashes in 2011, compared to 30 percent in 2000. Between 2000 and 2011 there were an estimated 19,447 speed-related crashes involving teens.

Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Law Firm

Attorney Steve Ray is a former Marine Corps judge now fights for the rights of accident victims in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, he brings more than 35 years of legal experience and military discipline to pursuing your claim for compensation.

He will meet with you to discuss your case and, if a claim is possible, pursue the maximum financial recovery available. If we cannot recover money for you, you will pay nothing for our legal services.

Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.