A Lesson a Driver-in-Training Will Never Forget

We all know that inexperienced teen drivers are dangerous to themselves and others. The statistics are very real. Auto crashes are the number one killer of young people, and yet teens continue to believe the worst won’t or can’t happen to them. For most teens, it would take the worst happening to them to learn about safe driving the hard way. That is exactly what happened to one teenager last week, in a tragic turn of events that will most likely haunt his life forever.

A 15-year-old teen driver from Oroville, California, killed his own mom when his driving inexperience led to a horrific crash. The Northern California teen driver was behind the wheel of the family car, being given driving lessons, when a maneuver he made caused the car to crash into a drainage ditch 10 feet wide and 5 feet deep. In the front passenger seat was his stepfather, while his mom and her new baby were in the backseat.

All escaped with minor injuries, except for the teen’s mother, who was pronounced dead at the hospital. The teen suffered cuts to his hand, while his stepfather fractured his collarbone. The baby in the back seat was unharmed. Though all were wearing seat belts, the force of the collision combined with lack of airbags in the backseat resulted in the injuries to the teen’s mother.

How could such a sad event unfold? Apparently, while driving around, the teen’s stepfather made the remark to “turn right here.” Unfortunately, inexperience means that the teen probably misunderstood the instructions to take a right turn as instructions to turn right away, or right now. This miscommunication came at a huge cost.

While it is easy to see how an crash such as this occurred, it is another reminder of how big a role lack of experience plays in the deadliness of crashes caused by teen drivers. It makes one wonder if driving lessons and all hours of training behind a wheel should be done on controlled courses. However, in that instance, teens wouldn’t gain the experience that teaches them what it’s really like to deal with the distractions and frustrations of real-world driving.

There is no doubt in my mind that this young man will feel at fault in his mother’s death, though it seems to me to be nothing more than a very tragic, ill-timed crash.