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A tragic story out of Plymouth, Michigan, reports that two teens, ages 14 and 15, caused a fatal car crash over the weekend.

The Livonia Police Department said they received multiple 911 calls about 9:00 p.m. Saturday stating that a white Ford Mustang with two occupants was doing doughnuts in an elementary school parking lot, but had since left. Police officers spotted the vehicle and attempted to make a traffic stop, but the driver of the Mustang sped off. Officers pursued the vehicle until he turned off the headlights. When Livonia police ended the pursuit, they notified the Plymouth Township Police Department, which found the Mustang in a wooded area about one mile from where the pursuit had ended. Both underage, unlicensed occupants died at the scene. According to reports, the driver was speeding and lost control before clipping the rear of a minivan and leaving the roadway. The Mustang rolled over, before coming to a stop into the wooded area where it was found engulfed in flames. The couple in the minivan were treated for minor injuries. It was later discovered that the Mustang was stolen outside an area business. An investigation is ongoing.

Sadly, this is not a unique occurrence. In recent years, there have been a number of these incidents nationwide. This tragic story should be a reminder to parents and teens about that driving without a license is a risky behavior – not to mention illegal.

Here a few facts and risks of underage driving from the Arrive Alive website:

Facts about underage driving:

  • Teen drivers aged 16-19 years are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.
  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed, run red lights, make illegal turns, ride with an intoxicated driver, and drive after using alcohol or drugs.
  • Inexperience is the reason why these drivers are more likely to underestimate hazardous situations.
  • The presence of teen passengers increases the risk of accidents by underage drivers – and the more passengers – the higher the risk.
  • Accidents by underage drivers occur mostly on Friday and Saturday nights between the hours 9pm and 6am.

Why do underage drivers pose such a significant risk?

  • The high number of underage drivers transgressing the law by going for a joyride can be attributed to peer pressure and a feeling of youthful invincibility.
  • Teenagers have a sense that they can get away with transgressions – a feeling of bravado whereby “I can get away with anything.”
  • This is further evident in research indicating that teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use.
  • About 30% of crashes killing young drivers involve alcohol and are often combined with contributing factors such as speeding.

Advice for parents:

  • Know what your children are doing and where they are – and how they are traveling to and from their destinations.
  • Talk with them about the consequences of their actions and the trouble they can get into.
  • Stress responsibility and the dangers to road safety.
  • Discuss with your children the need to avoid peer pressure and to avoid climbing in vehicles with underage and intoxicated drivers.
  • Put keys where underage children cannot get to them.

Sharing this advice with your kids might just prevent another unlicensed teen from getting behind the wheel–or prevent your child from being a passenger in a vehicle with an unlicensed driver.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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