Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Half of local road’s fatalities were 18 or younger

Posted by lapearce on June 12, 2009

Memorial for Ryan Case on Live Oak Canyon Rd. He was 18 when he over corrected and struck a tree.

Memorial for Ryan Case, 18, on Live Oak Canyon Rd. He over corrected and struck a tree.

I’m a car nut. I’m very active on a large BMW forum where the average member is an 18 year old male, per our demographics. Recently, a thread titled “post your crashes” brought something very illuminating to light:

A lot of these teen boys crash on canyon roads (or twisties). Here are some of the explanations given:

“Lost it in some twisties and went off the road into a ditch.”

“Tackling some twisties, lost it on a gravel patch, collected a CLS350 heading the opposite direction. Wrote off both cars”

“On one of the local twisties here, there is a small chicane section over a bridge that you can hit close to the top of 3rd gear. I went into the chicane at 75 mph, tapped the throttle over the bridge while transitioning right and the back end kicked out. I over correct and lodged the rear right tire right between the cement and slammed the back end into a telephone pole.”

I, like many other, weren’t shocked to hear that this 3 1/2 mile road, that has been the place of 12 deaths in the past 10, years, kills more teens than it does adults. Only two of those 12 deaths have been to people over the age of 25, and most of them have been to teens.

I have an unique point of view on this, as both a drivign instructor, and a person who grew up near this road. When I was a teen we would go down there and drive the canyon. Looking back now, we did really stupid stuff. Obviously, this past time hasn’t changed. Kids like to drive, and they like to think that they are good drivers. I thought I was God’s gift to driving when I was 16, that I was such a better driver than everyone else on the road. Man was I wrong. Luckily, I got to learn through experience, not tragedy.

Unfortunately, not as many people are as lucky as I was.

Of the 189 fatal and injury crashes that have occurred on Live Oak Canyon Road since 1999, excessive speed has been found to be the leading cause of the crash in 32 percent of the cases. Unsafe movement is believed to be the leading cause in 39 percent of the cases.But the two causes are connected and excessive speed is often what causes the driver to make an unsafe movement of the vehicle, Goodwin said. Add inexperience to the equation, and you have a driver that may overcorrect when his or her car swerves at high speeds.

“Speed leads to an unsafe lane movement,” Goodwin said. “They’re losing control of the vehicle and overcompensate.”

Residents and officials are trying to find ways now to make the road safer for drivers (i.e. make it unfun for teens to go racing through). I still live by this road, and I still like driving this road. It seems like to protect the teens they may be forced to punish the masses, however. I just wish we taught these kids they weren’t invincible so that mitigation measures like these weren’t needed.

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