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Teens at Higher Risk of Injury, Death in Florida Car Accidents

The voice on the line was that of a retired police officer who had come across many accident scenes in his career. But in that 911 call to dispatch at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, that voice, although clearly and succinctly describing the situation, revealed the sheer awfulness of it.

“We have people trapped in the car unconscious. We’re trying to get the door open. I have one, two people in the back seat unconscious. It’s pretty bad.”

By the time active duty emergency crews arrived, they would find one of four teens inside that vehicle, an 18-year-old recent Nease High School graduate, was dead. Five others – including two 18-year-old sisters (two in a set of identical triplets) – were seriously injured. Additionally, two others in another vehicle – a 20-year-old driver and his 19-year-old passenger – were seriously injured as well. Three of the teens injured are high school students, including the two sisters. According to a GoFundMe page for the sisters, they face “a long recovery.” The decedent, according to his obituary, had been studying computer engineering at the University of Central Florida.

As far as what actually happened, investigators are still trying to piece that together. The retired police officer who rushed to their aid and called 911 indicated that the car with the sisters in it had been “t-boned.”

A man who lives down the road from the accident site called the intersection where the crash occurred “extremely dangerous.” The speed limit there is between 55 mph and 60 mph, and local residence say an increase in population in recent years warrants a reduction in speed on that now-busy intersection.

Investigators have not indicated what they believe may have happened or which driver was most probably at-fault in the crash.

What our Orlando car accident attorneys can say for sure is that teens are, on the whole, at higher risk of injury and death in car accidents, and there are many reasons for that. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were nearly 2,165 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 killed in traffic accidents in 2013. Another 243,000 were treated at hospital emergency rooms for injuries ranging from minor to critical. The highest at-risk were:

  • Males (almost twice that of their female counterparts);
  • Teens driving with passengers;
  • Drivers who are newly-licensed.

There are a number of reasons why teens are in greater danger than most other drivers. A big part of it has to do with the fact that teens are likely to underestimate the danger of certain situations. They are also more likely than older drivers to allow shorter headways and they are more likely to speed. Teens also have the lowest rate of seat belt use (only 55 percent of high school students report “always” wearing a seat belt when they are with someone else), and they are more likely to crash when under the influence of alcohol than older drivers.

Authorities have not said in this instance whether alcohol was a factor or even which driver was at-fault. In a case like this, crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe may be helpful in the immediate, short-term. However, they are not going to cover the full damages over the long term. An experienced injury attorney can help teens and their parents fully explore all options.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Teen killed, 5 seriously injured in St. Johns County crash, Sept. 13, 2016, By Ashley Harding, News 4 Jax

More Blog Entries:

NHTSA: Non-Traffic Crash Injuries and Fatalities a Serious Problem, Sept. 11, 2016, Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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