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Car Accidents Leading Cause Of Teen Deaths

Evening Edition

Above: Officer Brian Pennings, public affairs officer for the California Highway Patrol, talks to Evening Edition about car accidents that cause teen deaths.

Aired 4/16/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests

Steve Bloch, senior researcher with the Southern California Autoclub.

Officer Brian Pennings, public affairs officer for the California Highway Patrol

Transcript

Two San Diego teenagers are facing charges after a terrible crash on eastbound Highway 52 earlier this month. Police say the 16-year-old driver of one car lost control, hit the median and rolled the vehicle multiple times.

Two passengers were thrown from the car and died. The 16-year-old driver and an 18-year-old driving another car face charges of vehicular manslaughter. Investigators say the cars were racing at 100 miles per hour before the crash occurred.

According to the California Highway Patrol, car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens ages 16 to 19 and at least 75 percent of the accidents had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.

"Parents aren't supposed to bury their teens," said Officer Brian Pennings, public affairs officer for the California Highway Patrol.

Pennings said there are provisions that apply specifically to first-year drivers:

--They must be accompanied by a licensed parent or licensed driver 25 years of age or older when transporting passengers under the age of 20 and when driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

--They cannot talk or text on their cell phones.

If a driver is 16 years old and has one passenger in his car, he is 39 percent more likely to be killed than when driving alone, Pennings said. With two passengers, that likelihood jumps to 86 percent. With three passengers, a 16-year-old is 182 percent more likely to be killed than when driving alone. For 17-year-olds, those percentages increase even more.

Pennings also said the CHP will saturate an area with patrols if they know it is used for drag racing.

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