St. Louis County Fatal Teen Crash Drives Home Road Risks

St. Louis County Fatal Teen Crash Drives Home Road Risks

A fiery crash in north St. Louis County early this month claimed the lives of two teens, ages 15 and 17, after authorities say the driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into the concrete base of an electric traffic signal on Robbins Mill Road.

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Those who knew the Hazelwood Central High School sophomores say they were on their way home from a friend’s birthday celebration at a nearby restaurant. The crash happened around 10 p.m.

Some 200 mourners came to pay respects at the site of the crash, with many opining on what the two may have been had their lives not been stolen so soon.

Authorities are still trying to piece together factors that may have contributed to the crash, with investigators analyzing every possibility, including distraction, speed and impairment. It appears the 17-year-old was the one behind the wheel.

Our St. Louis accident attorneys know on a national scale, teens have a disproportionately high rate of crashes, with the U.S. Department of Transportation indicating the fatal crash rate per mile driven by a 16-to-19-year-old driver is three times that of a driver age 20 or older. Drivers who are 16 and 17 have the highest fatal crash rate of any group of drivers.

In the last 20 years, all states have adopted graduated licensing systems which phase in full-time driving privileges.

The state of Missouri, in recognizing risks associated with inexperience behind the wheel, passed a graduated driver’s license law that requires all first-time drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 to complete a period restricted driving before receiving a full driver’s license. Full license privileges are not available to teens until they turn 18. Even with an advanced intermediate license, drivers are restricted from operating the vehicle with more than three passengers under the age of 19 in the vehicle, unless a licensed adult passenger is in the front seat. Teens can apply for permits from the Missouri Department of Revenue starting at age 15.

Additionally, anyone under the age of 21 can have his or her license privileges suspended for three months for a first-time offense of any of the following:

    • Any alcohol-related traffic offense
    • Possession or use of alcohol while operating a vehicle
    • Any offense involving possession or use of drugs
    • Any offense involving the modification, misrepresentation or modification of a driver’s license (fake ID)
    • A second offense involving the possession or use of alcohol by someone younger than 18

Additionally, courts have discretion to revoke driving privileges for up to one year for anyone under 21 who is caught possessing or using drugs while driving.Despite all of these protections, there continues to be tragedies involving teens behind the wheel in Missouri.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports eight teens are killed every day in crashes across the country. The agency encourages parents to:

    • Limit nighttime driving of teens, particularly after 10 p.m., as this is when many crashes involving teens occurs
    • Limit the number of teen passengers your teen driver can have to one or zero
    • Require seat belt use as a condition of driving – every trip
    • Disallow any activity that takes the driver’s eyes off the road, including talking on a phone, texting, playing with the radio or eating
    • Make sure your child is well-rested before driving
    • Be a good role model by never drinking and driving
    • Make sure your child knows to drive according to the speed limit and to adjust speed in accordance with road conditions, leaving enough space behind the vehicle ahead to avoid a collision in the event of a sudden stop.

Additional Resources:
Two Hazelwood Central students mourned after fiery crash in north St. Louis County, Jan. 9, 2014, By Denise Hollinshed, Kim Bell and Margaret S. Gillerman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

More Blog Entries:
Driver Distraction Danger in Missouri Compounded by Holiday Traffic, Dec. 10, 2014, St. Louis Car Accident Attorney Blog

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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