Car Surfing and Riding Outside the Vehicle
May 11, 2012
Recently, news reports have told the story of at least five teens that were severely injured as a result of “car surfing”, or riding outside a vehicle.
In one incident, a 14 year old Georgia boy was riding in the trunk of a vehicle overloaded with teens. He was ejected from the vehicle and suffered severe brain injury. He remained in the intensive care unit for three weeks until he was taken off life support and died. The 19 year old driver is now facing charges in the incident.
In another incident from Georgia, a 16 year old boy skipped school with several others and was hanging outside an SUV traveling at a high rate of speed. The driver lost control and the SUV rolled crushing the teen underneath. At last report, he remains in a coma.
Two girls, one from Pennsylvania and another from Florida were injured while attempting to car-surf. Car surfing involves trying to remain upright or “surfing” on top of a moving vehicle. The Pennsylvania girl was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The Florida girl remains in a medically induced coma.
Another 17 year old boy was trying to hold down a mattress in the back of a pickup truck traveling at approximately 35 to 40 mph. The airstream, both above and below the mattress, created a wing-like effect, lifting the mattress along with the boy into the air. The boy died due to massive brain trauma.
Teens tend to feel invincible but no matter how strong, athletic or agile they may be, they will never be strong or agile enough to overcome the laws of physics. An object in motion tends to remain in motion in a straight line. That means that, while attempting to car-surf, if the vehicle should suddenly stop or turn, the “surfer” will continue traveling ahead at the same rate of speed, usually crashing into the pavement. Even at speeds as low as 10 to 15 mph, the results can be catastrophic.
Even inside the vehicle, if they aren’t wearing a seat belt, they are asking for trouble. Another recent incident involved a teen girl who was engaged in horseplay with her boyfriend while the vehicle was in motion. Authorities are unsure of what exactly happened but it is felt that the girl accidentally hit the door handle, opening the door. Not wearing a seat belt, she was thrown out of the vehicle and suffered traumatic brain injury.
Most of these incidents involved teens engaged in horseplay in or on a moving vehicle without a seat belt to hold them in place; most also involved cars driven by a teen with more than one other passenger. Graduated driving laws in most states usually restrict the number of passengers a teen can carry because it is well proven that, the more teen passengers a teen driver carries, the greater the distractions and the greater the temptation to show off.
Teens and adults need to be constantly reminded that there is no safe place on or in a vehicle except in a passenger seat securely buckled in with a seat belt.