Roy Exum: Our 100 Deadliest Days

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When the legendary crooner Nat King Cole saluted “The Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” back in the early 1960s, he didn’t tell the whole true about “those days of sodas and pretzels and beer.” That fact was brought achingly home on Lake Altoona in Georgia Saturday night when a kid who had graduated from high school only hours earlier drowned after an innocent game he and his buddies were playing went awry.

It seems the fun-filled guys were taking turns riding a shopping cart down a steep path into the lake. Usually the rope from the cart is tied to a pole on the dock, making it easy to drag out of the water for the next ride. For some reason, the kid wrapped the rope around himself and the cart dragged the victim into the dark water, where he drowned.

On Memorial Day the “100 Deadliest Days” began in the United States. From Monday until Labor Day a disproportionate number of teenaged drivers will die on our highways. In 2012 almost 1,000 people were killed involving crashes where teenaged drivers were involved and what is most sobering is distracting passengers increase the chances a teen driver with crash by a whopping 44 percent.

John Ulczychi, a spokesman for the National Safety Council, was quoted on CNN the other day on why more than 40 states have now enacted laws limiting the number of passengers a new driver can have in the car. “Passengers are a distraction the whole time. Texting and cell phones are limited to the seconds or minutes they are being used,” he said but passengers in the car are a greater risk.

“It is tragic parents don’t really appreciate (and understand) the risks of passengers. If you have a kid who has had a driver’s license less than a year, you have to think very, very carefully about the conditions or the situations in which you allow them to carry passengers,” he told CNN.

Reporter Kelly Wallace said that a North Carolina study found loud conversation, music too loud and horseplay were found to cause young drivers to make up to six times more evasive efforts to avoid crashes and Ulczychi told her a huge problem for a beginner is driving at night.

“I think too many parents think of night driving as a curfew. ‘I’ll let my kid stay out until 11 so he’ll be fine,’ they’ll say but it isn’t the time of night – what matters is how dark it is. There is a bigger risk driving after dark.”

What’s disparaging is the CNN Report is right on the mark. Live long enough and you’ll soon mourn the lives of children who die every summer. Anyone with young drivers needs to stress “the 100 Deadliest Days” to their children and remember that the risk to a passenger in a new driver’s car increases over 40 percent. We need to beat those odds.

* * *

A 19-year-old boy was trying to hold his breath as he drove through a tunnel northwest of Portland, Ore., on Sunday and passed out from the lack of oxygen. True story. His car veered into the center lane where it crashed head-on into an oncoming Ford Explorer. Four people suffered injuries and the “breath-holder” was cited for reckless driving, three counts of reckless endangerment and fourth-degree assault.

An Oregon State Police spokesman explained people who hold their breath in tunnels do so due to superstition or for luck.

* * *

A car carrying five kids in Farmington, NY, had just left Dave & Busters, where they had been playing games and eating pizza, when the driver got in a playful race with some friends from high school. Four of the children were killed when the car crashed Saturday night and the fifth child died on Sunday.

* * *

In Albertville, Ala., an 18-year-old girl died last week after she was killed when she went too fast and crashed. She was not wearing a seat belt. Three other passengers in the car were hospitalized.

* * *

An 18-year-old girl died Sunday in Mobile, Ala., after she was airlifted from Pass Christian, Texas, from a car wreck six days before. A car driven by her boyfriend, age 18, crashed as it left her house. Her boyfriend and her 16-year-old brother died on impact.

* * *

A 16-year-old boy from Ringgold, Ga., was killed Sunday night when a 1987 truck he was driving failed to negotiate a curve on U.S Hwy 71, went into a ditch, hit a tree, and burst into flames near the Coushatta community.

* * *

A 19-year-old in Lynchburg, Va., died last Wednesday after his vehicle hit a parked school bus and then struck a telephone pole. The accident occurred at 7:20 a.m.

* * *

An 18-year-old female who was a member of the Shashonne-Bannock Indian tribe in Idaho died on the Fort Hall Reservation after she was ejected from her vehicle in a crash last Tuesday night.

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