Cbsnews.com reports that four Chicago-area teens from Wilmington High School were killed last Tuesday when their vehicle overturned and plunged into Forked Creek. An accident attorney at our firm learned that the victims, two boys and two girls ranging from fifteen to seventeen years old, left their homes on Monday evening and never returned. A bus driver near Ballou Road spotted their car and bodies around 7:30am Tuesday morning in Wilmington, about fifty miles southwest of Chicago. A tow truck was called to pull the car from the water, and officials worked to remove the bodies from the wreck. The cause of the accident is currently unknown, but police believe there may have been run-off water coming over the roadway from the creek and possible ice that contributed to the vehicle overturning.
The occurrence of this accident was especially significant for our lawyers because the teenagers were among fifteen who have been killed in three major accidents since last week. Five teens were killed in Texas when their vehicle ran a stop sign and collided with a fuel tanker truck. That same day, six Ohio teens were killed when their SUV sped off a stretch of roadway at eighty miles per hour and flipped into a pond.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes have been declining in all parts of the country, dropping from 8,748 in 1975 to 3,115 in 2010. However, the risk of being in an accident is three times higher for teens than any other group of drivers. Accident injuries are the leading cause of death for individuals aging from thirteen to nineteen years old. Even more, Illinois ranks twelfth in the country for fatalities in crashes involving young drivers by state.
There are often many factors that contribute to teenagers being involved in accidents. First and foremost, most teens have not yet completely mastered basic driving skills that develop after years of experience behind the wheel. They take longer to detect hazards while driving and also tend to underestimate accident risk in hazardous situations while overestimating their ability to avoid those hazards. Teens also have a more difficult time driving at night than other age groups.
Furthermore, the fatality risk of teenagers is much higher when they are driving with passengers than when they are driving alone. Same-aged passengers are likely to distract the teen drivers and encourage them to take more risks. These risks include speeding, tailgating, making illegal turns, or running red lights. Teens are often overconfident in their driving abilities and therefore take these risks that often result in injury or death. This is especially the case when teenagers are not wearing their seatbelts, which they do less often than older drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is also a common cause of serious teen accidents. Teenagers who drink and drive are at much greater risk of serious crashes than are older drivers with equal concentrations of alcohol in their blood.
We want to encourage all teens to exercise caution while driving in order to decrease the risk being involved in an accident. There are a large amount of teens who are cautious behind the wheel, but nevertheless, they do not have the years of experience that adults do and therefore are at a larger risk of being in an accident. We also want to encourage motorists in older age groups to be aware of teenagers that are driving near them in case the teens are exerting risky behavior behind the wheel and may be putting them in danger.
Please contact our law firm if you or someone you know has been in an accident caused by a negligent motorist. We have the proper experience needed to assist you in determining if legal recourse may be available to you, informing you of your rights, and ultimately offering you the resources you need to seek legal action.