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Our View: Alabama's teens too often become victim of those highway dangers

Our View: Alabama's teens too often become victim of those highway dangers

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Our prayers and thoughts include the family and friends of Mark Daniel, who at only 17 years of age passed away recently in a tragic accident when his truck left the roadway and struck a tree.

Mark was a student at Auburn High School, and a funeral service for him took place last Wednesday at Cornerstone Church on Hamilton Road in Auburn.

Sadly, too many Alabama teens have met similar fate in recent years.

While any-age driver on the road should well realize that an abundance of caution is required to enjoy safe travel, various threats to our teen drivers today deserve an increased and widespread emphasis on education, training, awareness and simple reminders of the many dangers that exist.

It’s not easy being a teenager. It is an era of new beginnings with new responsibilities.

Life brings many exciting opportunities and rewards as well, however, and few greater for a young teenager than earning the right to drive and the newfound freedom that comes with it.

Mark’s accident is believed to have occurred when he may have slipped off the road and possibly overcorrected trying to regain control, early reports said. He could have seen a deer or faced any number of possibilities that led to what happened.

Other teens have had accidents caused by distractions such as texting, or the influence of alcohol or drugs, or from failing to realize their level of exhaustion and becoming too tired or sleepy to drive; and yet others simply from not yet having a skill level to deal with some of the hazards drivers sometimes face.

Regardless of the reasons or causes, Alabama is losing too many teen drivers.

A national research website recently released its study ranking “The Deadliest States for Teen Drivers.” Alabama is one of them, the Opelika-Auburn News reported in a story last week.

ValuePenguin, a LendingTree research website, ranks Alabama No. 12 on the list of the most deadly states for teen drivers.

Alabama’s average annual rate is 1.88 teen driver deaths per 10,000 licensed drivers that are younger than 19 years old.

The report says there were 207 teen fatalities reported from 2013 to 2017, the last year of available data.

Nationally during that time span, the study found that 6,376 teen motorists between ages of 16-19 died as a result of traffic accidents.

The study also found male teenager drivers were more than 2.5 times as likely to be killed in an accident as their female counterpart.

The summer months were determined to be the most deadly for teenage drivers, with June and August having the highest daily fatality rates.

All drivers face dangers on the road, and accidents happen every day to people in all age brackets. But teen drivers are much less experienced and frequently more distracted.

Mark’s death is another of far too many tragedies in our community this year, and his classmates will be among those who miss him most.

We must all work together to find ways that best ensure we don’t lose any more of them.

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Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He previously served as the news editor in New York for the nation's second largest newspaper company, and as the senior editor at several other news entities around the nation. He is an Auburn alum.

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