"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
Two teenage boys were killed in Rosedale yesterday when their car shifted into the wrong lane and crashed into another vehicle, the Daily News reports.
The driver, 17-year-old Stephen Bachoon of Brooklyn, was heading south down Brookville Boulevard when his Toyota Corolla switched to the northbound lane. His car collided head-on with a 70-year-old woman’s Kia Sedona, killing Mr. Bachoon and one of his passengers, Queens teen Chris Basdeo.
Mr. Bachoon’s four other teenage passengers, who were traveling in the back seat, are in guarded condition at area hospitals. The other driver is in stable condition.
For New York auto accident lawyers, there are several disturbing elements in this crash. First, there is no way four passengers could be safely accommodated in a Toyota Corolla’s back seat – the car’s rear seat has only three sets of seat belts.
Second, it is a questionable wisdom that leads us to allow such a young driver to transport any number of similarly-aged passengers, let alone five. Teenagers are hardly known for their consistently sound judgment or staid manners. Driving, especially for new drivers, often requires intense focus. A car filled with raucous teens is hardly conducive to an inexperienced driver’s establishing and maintaining the focus necessary for safe operation of his or her vehicle.
The California DMV estimates that teenage drivers are 3.6 times as likely to have a fatal accident when they are traveling with teenage passengers.
In response to this alarming situation, more than 30 states and the District of Columbia forbid drivers under a certain age from carrying more than one young passenger. Some states go a step further and do not allow these drivers to transport any passengers.
New York State has a more lenient approach. Drivers with a junior license are allowed to transport up to two other minors. However, with only a little trouble even 17-year-olds can receive an unrestricted full license and travel with as many passengers as they like.
The New York auto accident lawyers I spoke with would like to see the legislature impose tougher restrictions on every young driver, not just those with junior licenses.
In the meantime, parents should help teenage drivers understand their limits and the dangers of driving. The New York State Department of Health has a short guide to teenage passengers and drivers that every teen should review. Following its advice could mean the difference between living a long, happy life and becoming yet another grim statistic.