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Lessons Taught by a Teen Driver...


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  • Lessons Taught by a Teen Driver...

    ...or, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation".

    Friday night I worked OT in my old stomping grounds. My new zone is in my old district, but it's a county area, so we don't work crashes. In my old zone, it's an incorporated city, so we do. Needless to say it's been over two years since I worked a crash, so to say I'm rusty would be an understatement.

    Friday night (Saturday morning) was one for the ages in my book. Car load (5) of teens (17-18 yoa) were out party hopping in a Nissan Pathfinder. The 17 year old driver thought it might be cool to go out and play Baja racer in mom and dad's 4X4, so he's out in one of our nicer country type neighborhoods with dirt roads and starts hot doggin'. We followed his tracks from around a corner, through front yards, over culverts where he was trying to get air, and finally out on the straight stretch where he picked up more speed.

    On the straight, you could see the marks where he was fishtailing it either trying to gather it in or just screwing around. He finally got more than he could handle, it went into a counter clockwise spin, hit some soft dirt at a driveway and flipped into someone's yard. The right side dug in hard, flipped a one and a half and landed on its roof. 3 out of 5 were ejected, including the driver. One of the kids was pinned under the right rear corner of the roof when we got there.

    The good news is, there were no fatalities, but the potential was there.

    Driver: 17 yoa, ejected as soon as it went driver side high, landed in the yard on his right side. Ended up with a lacerated liver and spleen, a broken collar bone and a broken shoulder blade. He also had a basal skull fracture (VERY dangerous!) and most likely a concussion. When I left the hospital where he was airlifted to, they were waiting on the bleeding to stop in the liver so they could operate.

    BAC results are pending, but my guess is low to mid .20's. It's kind of hard to tell with the head injury and with him being incoherent.

    Right front passenger: 18 yoa, no seatbelt, but not ejected. He went forward and either hit the windshield or the sunroof. By dumb luck and/or the grace of God, he wasn't partially ejected through the sunroof and either crushed or decapitated. Refused medical treatment at scene even though he had a big gash in his head. By his own admission, it's not considered a vital organ.

    Right rear passenger: 17 yoa, no seatbelt and ejected. He was the one that was pinned. He was transported but was somewhat alert and walking around after the car was taken off of him.

    Middle passenger: 18 yoa, seatbelted, not ejected. No injuries save small cuts from flying glass and bodies. It is of my professional opinion, had he not been belted, he would have been the one that would have died since he may not have made it completely out the window.

    Left rear passenger: 18 yoa, not belted, ejected. Minor cuts and a sore ankle.

    The car: 1990 Nissan Pathfinder. FUBAR. The roof starts an incline above the front seat headrests and goes straight down to the dashboard. Very little glass was left in it.

    Here are the lessons, which also happen to be my biggest pet peeves about driving:

    DUI: All of them were drinking and I found a keg tap and an empty metal flask at the scene. Had he been summer, first of all, he may not have been inclined to act like an idiot. Second, had he still felt the urge to hot rod around, he would have had the wits and capacity to correct the car earlier. Or not, who really knows with an SUV on a dirt road at high speeds.

    F'ing around in a car: IT'S NOT A G***AMN TOY!!! 'nuff said.

    Seatbelts: while this turned out good (a relative term), I think we all see the potential for bad things, man.

    Speed: DUI and hot dogging notwithstanding, speed played a large part in this. The faster you go, the harder it is to correct and the more pronounced the steering wheel input is. Inertia, gravity and momentum are powerful things. You might be able to fool some people, but there's no getting one over on Sir Isaac Newton.

  • #2
    Very fortunate kids. We'll see in a few years if they learned anything from it.


    • #3
      One of my new found areas of interest is that of crash my current assignment I have alot of spare time on my hands...i've read every single injury crash or crash recon report our department has done in the last 8 or 9 months.

      These kids are DAMN LUCKY!!! I hate to say it, but the fact they were drunk may have actually helped their bodies roll with the motions of the tossing vehicle rather than just tense up and go splat.
      Nobody ever wants to have to fight, but its a darn good idea for someone to know how.


      • #4
        Unfortunately, I think many of them are going to walk away from this one having learned this lesson:

        "WOW! If I survived that, think of what it'll take to kill me."
        Caution and worry never accomplished anything.


        • #5
          I agree with Kirch.
          "Americans don't want a mentally unstable president; he might start a war or something." - Bill Maher


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