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The Increase In Teen Related Driving Deaths
At what age are children responsible enough to drive? Should the age for teens to receive a drivers license be raised? They are not allowed to drink or smoke at 16, but we allow them the priviledge to operate a half ton vehicle on busy highways.
In Dallas last week, a 16 year old backing her mothers suv out of the drive way, backed over her 18 month old baby brother, killing him. It was not said whether she had a license or not.
The increase in deaths caused by teenagers behind the wheel are increasing, Road rage, teens drag racing, and often just lack of response time in a dangerous situation, can all result in serious injuries or even death. Often some of the victims of the accidents are not just the teenager driving or his passengers, but many times an innocent pedestrian or the driver of another vehicle in an accident caused by the teen. Many parents under the impression that because their child has taken drivers education at school they are competent to handle any situation they may encounter while driving. Sadly this is not always the case.
Teenagers have a sense of immortality in their innocent years. The drivers education taken at school does not prepare a teenager for the dangers encountered on the road. Parents are to fast to sign for the drivers license of their teenagers. They are allowed to use the parents vehicle sometimes, but more often than not are given one by the parents. Many work after school and purchase their own, with the parent putting the vehicle in their name since the teenager is no old enough to enter into a contract.
With the increase in speed limits in most states the traffic fatalities have increased accordingly. Drivers going down the wrong side of the road, going down a one way street, and the increase of road rage and drag racing among teens has not helped an already deadly situation.
So at what age are teenagers competent to handle a vehicle? After reading the story below leave your feedback and see if you agree with me that the age at which a teenager can be issued a drivers license and what requirements you feel would be sufficent.
The Story of Dustin White
Dustin White was 18 years old. He had just graduated high school in Sumrall, Mississippi and had enrolled in a Tennesse University. He was responsible, respectful and had a bright future. Dustin got his license at 16 after completeing drivers education. He always worked and made good grades. He had many friends and a steady girlfriend. I was there the day he got saved at church and dedicated his life to Christ. He did not drink, smoke or do drugs. He knew what direction he wanted his life go in. He was the first born son. A source of pride and joy to his mother and father and a wonderful role model to his younger brother Garrett and his only sister Savannah. It seemed to be the perfect life of an intelligent young man with a promising future. But in a short time, all of this would change.
In Mississippi we learn to drive at about the same early age we learn to hunt, somewhere between 8-10 years old. It is nothing to see a very young driver behingd the wheel of a vehicle. This is common especially in the small rual towns like Sumrall. I learned to drive when I was 10. I would go the the store, friends house or run errands for my parents. I think Dustin had been driving since around 10 Years old also. He was careful and responsible. The roads where he drove were small and had little traffic. The same roads I grew up driving on.
It happened on September 18th, 2009, on Highway 588 just west of Ellisville, Mississippi. Around 3:30 pm the new white Ford F150 pickup truck Dustin was driving collided head on with a green Ford F150 pickup truck driven by Jasmine Russell. Both trucks exploded and burned on impact.
Jasmine Russell 23, of Columbia Mississippi, and a passenger, Adriana Batimon 19, died at the scene. Taylor Newsome 18, of Prentiss Mississippi, was taken to the hospital in critical condition. All three girls were students ay Pearl River Jr. College and were on the way home from class when the accident occured.
Dustin White 18 was from Sumrall Mississippi, he also died at the scene. He was also on his way home from college in Tennessee.
Two people who happen to drive upon the scene stopped to help. They had to bust the window of the green truck to pull Jasmine Russell out. Taylor Newsome was also pulled out. But the intense heat and flames engulfing the two trucks and the fact that the impact of the collision had pushed the motor inside the vehicles. Both Dustin White and Adriana Batimon were pinned inside the vehicles and the two men could only stand and watch as they heard the two screaming in pain. When the fire dept arrived, it took them a long time to extinguish the fire and cut the two trapped youths out. By this time the bodys were badly burned. The cause of the accident is under investigation and the families have filed suit against Ford Motor Company for vehicle malfunction which caused the vehicles to explode. It was a tragedy that took the lives of three young teens. One of them known to me personally.
Dustin White was my nephew. His mother is my baby sister. The accident devastated her. I don't know if she will ever be the same. I don't know if I will ever be the same. Dustin's room remains the same way he left it. His pictures and football trophies still proudly displayed. For over a month she cried and drank herself into a stupor. Not wanting to remember, yet unable to forget. I look at his graduation picture, that beautiful smile he always shared so freely with everyone. It always brings me to tears. If you look at the pictures below of his truck, you will see the pain of a mother, torn by grief as she looks at the vehicle where her child burned alive. No one knows what caused the crash but I hope that I never have to feel the pain of losing my child. I can not begin to imagine her feelings of pain and loss. She returned to work this week after almost two months. Still I look at her and sense the immense feelings of pain she carries around with her. I now look at my baby sister and see only a shell of the person she was befor the tragedy occurred.
"Rest In Peace my Darling Nephew, Dustin White,18. Gone too soon but never to be forgotten."
Readers and fans please leave me a comment on what age and requirements should be imposed for teenagers to obtain a license. Or if you just like the story. It was very hard for me to write this article. I loved Dustin very much. He was eveything to many people. His kindness and willingness to help others and to make something of his life. What gives me the most consolation is knowing he was saved and is now in a better place.
Life without Dustin
This was the first holiday without my nephew Dustin. It's been a month now since he died in the accident pictured below. A part of my heart died with him.
My sister, with her husband away on an oil drilling rig in Saudia Arabia, stayed home and remained quiet in her grief. My mother finally convinced her and her children, Dustins sister and brother to come and eat with her. I don't think she ate too much. His sister and brother also picked at their food not wanting to appear rude but suffering too much to feel much like holiday participation.
I didn't call her because like the day he was killed I didn't know what to say. I am still at a loss for words. I know Christmas is coming up and January 3rd is his birthday. I worry about my sister everyday. I can not say I know her pain I can only imagine. I hope I never have to know. For now i just want her to know that I love her and my thoughts and prayers are with her and her remaining children.
I still can't help but wonder if maybe more drivers training, what if's and if onlys, they fill my mind. I don't know the answer, I don't know if I ever will. I only know that this tragedy has devastated my family. I know it also does the same to many other families.
If you know the answer, have a suggestion, a comment. Please let me know whats on your mind.
MERRY CHRISTMAS DUSTIN
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. One more day until Christmas and instead of bringing you gifts, they delivered your tombstone. It had a picture of you etched into the marble, it looked just like you with that special smile that you always shared so freely.
Dustin I wasn't there, you are many miles away but there are so many things I wish you could hear me say. They told me me your mom lay down next to you and cried for two hours today. You were my sisters baby boy, her first born son, and when it comes to nephews, like you there is no one.
I know Christmas will be hard on everyone now that you are gone, we all miss you so much, and find it hard to carry on. But we know you are at peace and in God's sweet arms you rest, you have what we on earth only dream, you have the very best.
Merry Christmas my darling Dustin, sometimes I wish you were still here, but even if I could, I wouldn't take you back from there. I know that you are happy and that you are doing well, just know that here without you isn't all that swell.
We love more than ever and as Christmas time draws near, we miss your very special smile and we wish that were here.
MERRY CHRISTMAS DUSTIN,
LOVE ALWAYS, AUNT CHRIS
Drunken teen driver collides with other vehicle resulting in 3 fatalities
In Dallas, Texas a 17 year old driver who was intoxicated collided with another vehicle carrying a family and resulting in the death of the mother, and two of her children.
The teenagers name was not released due to his age. Authorities have said no charges have been filed yet. Pending the investigation of the accident, chances are there will be none.
The daughter of the victim appearing on the local newscast said "it is not fair, he is at home playing video games, and I will never see my mom or siblings again.
It is not known where the teen obtained the alcohol.
Another tragedy, another teen driver. Given there are many adults who cause many accidents and fatalities while drinking and then driving. I strongly believe charges should be filed and the teenager involved should stand trial as an adult.
It's almost Easter and once again my mind returns to you. I miss you so much and now Bri and Jennifer have gone to join you. How is it possible to lose so many loved ones in such a short span of time. I have asked myself this so many times. Then I think maybe you needed some family with you. Losing you all has devastated the entire family. We all loved you all so very much. But you were special!! Always with that winning smile... you know that's what I remember most about you. You were all so young..but your death haunts me like a bad dream. I keep wanting to wake up and find you still there. Your mom, she's just a shell of herself. Even though we know you would'nt want us to grieve ... it's impossible not to feel the loss. I know you're happy there in heaven and I wouldn't bring you back if I could..but oh baby, I miss you so. Have a Happy Easter ... and remember .. We all love and miss you so.