Car crashes are the most common way teenagers die, in the United States. More drivers under the age of 20 die while driving than from any other causes.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have both published studies that confirm this gruesome fact.
One big problem with this unfortunate situation is that nobody seems to want to do anything concrete about the causes of teenage driving deaths. In fact, most organizations that are in a position to do something to prevent teenage driving deaths are doing nothing at all.
Sure, laws against drinking or using cell phones while driving have been passed in some states. But these laws are hardly enforced in most places.
Cops Cannot Be Bothered With This Issue
Stand outside any high school at the time of day school lets out. There is often even a cop there directing traffic in those places. These policeman see kids talking on their cell phones all the time, yet they do nothing about it.
If you ask the police why they do nothing about teenagers driving and talking on cell phones they provide many answers. One common response cops give is that they really can't do anything. The laws are written in such a way that police must have another reason, besides cell phone use, to stop a teenage driver.
The same rule applies to seat belt use. Drivers must break a different law to get ticketed for driving while using cell phones or not using seat belts.
So teens continue to die while talking or texting and driving.
In some states the police can pull over and ticket teenagers just for driving while talking on the phone. The police in those places will tell you how difficult it is to determine if the driver is actually a teenager.
In a few places the police can pull over any person driving and talking on the cell phone. They almost never do that, they just do not have the manpower, plus the cases end up getting thrown out of court most of the time.
So teens keep dying needlessly behind the wheel, while talking.
Parents are Too Busy
School and police officials will tell you that parents need to be the enforcers. Parents of teenagers will tell you that they do order their kids not to talk on the phone while driving. The kids still talk on the phone and attempt to drive anyway.
Teen drivers keep dying in huge numbers no matter what anyone says or does about it.
Phone Companies Don't Care
The cell phone and automobile companies fight most efforts to restrict cell phone use or teen driving. They desperately need the revenue from all those phone minutes, text messages, and car parts.
The dead teenagers are probably just considered collateral damage, like civilians killed in war.
There is a huge outcry every time three or more teenagers die in a car accident. Police and insurance investigators can sometimes determine if the unfortunate victims were talking or texting when they got in the wreck. Once they pry the phone records away from very protective cell phone companies. There is not much the police can do about this issue after the accident happens.
The phone companies send phone bills to parents of teenagers every month. It would not take more than a few minutes for parents to find a few cases where their teenagers were driving and talking, just by examining those phone bills. If the parents knew the statistics maybe they would do this, but probably not.
We have the Technology to Stop It Now
There are technical ways to make cell phones inoperable in moving cars. There is already a device that prevents cell phones from working in a specific place. Some restaurants and certain Broadway theaters have been known to use these devices. Sneaky people riding trains into New York City also use cell phone blockers from time to time. These devices are illegal but you can still order them, put the batteries in, and use them anytime. Why not hide one in your teenager's car? It could keep them from serious injury or death. If they need to use the cell phone anyway they could park the car, step outside, and use the phone.
The phone companies do not want to stop teenagers from dying while using their products behind the wheel of an automobile.
Most parents just cannot be bothered to really check to see if their kids are using cell phone while driving.
The automobile makers are just trying to stay in business, surely they want nothing to do with issue of cell phone use and driving.
Insurance Providers and Local Leaders Do Care
Insurance companies and government agencies do care about teen driving deaths. But there is not much they can do about it other than include little pamphlets in with the insurance bills or publish statistics. There is not much money available for effective driver's education programs these days. That money was all spent on wars overseas.
So teenagers will continue to die behind the wheel of cars more than any other way. What a terrible and yet preventable loss of life.
Maybe $5 per gallon is not such a bad thing, from the point of view of driving safety. High gas prices may just force teenagers to drive less, and therefore talk on the phone less while driving.