Monday, January 09, 2006

I have a daughter just learning how to drive. I have sisters who years ago used to sneak out late at night to meet friends. As an ER Doc I took care of so many broken bodies.

It’s always tough when a child dies. It hits close to home. I can imagine how it hits the parents. It seems particularly tough (like they all aren’t tough) when it is a “child” who is past the “age of reason”, who feel they will live forever no matter what risk they take, who feel that death only comes to someone else, someone older than themselves.

I’ve done several pre-prom programs at local high schools stressing the dangers of drinking and driving, riding with someone who is driving drunk or stoned. But the bigger problem from my experience, particularly over the last few months, is driving with fear suspended, driving while thrill seeking, “jumping” hills, “jumping” railroad tracks, playing “Dukes of Hazard”.

16 year old kids are dying, 4 in the last couple of months. There have been others in the last year.

I can put the information out there. Parents can tell their children, warn their children. But is it enough? Can the truth, honest information, given to kids telling them that this behavior is risky, get these kids to stop? I do believe that they can be saved if they will stop and think. I believe that thinking can make them realize that this “driving” carries the risk of death and they can stay out of the car or get the driver to stop. But will it work for all of the kids? How do we really impact, stop, this thrill seeking behavior without regard to consequences?

There is a local group started after the death of Brett Karlin,, killed in 2004 hill hopping in a car going 10 mph. But I do hesitate linking to their “teaching” website, because the latest crash deaths were near the same Cuba Rd where Brett died,, and we can never know if there was a tie between the 2 crashes.

Nonetheless, it is imperative to give kids the information about the risk, about the fact that they can die. I discuss it with my daughter and will every time something like this happens. Driving has responsibilities. Cars are deadly weapons. Actions and behaviors have consequences. Kids die before they have done all they want to do, before they have done everything they, and their parents, had hoped they would do. We have to work to teach, to get the information to the kids, and then we have to hope and pray that they will pause and think, consider the consequences, make the right choices, and somebody won’t die.

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