Teens and Summer Driving a Dangerous Combination in Maine

The father of a young woman on trial for the death of two friends in a 2012 Maine auto accident tearfully testified before the jury about his daughter’s hospital bed confession.

As she recovered from the crash that killed both of her best friends, she told her parents why she veered off the road that January morning in Paris: Her cell phone rang. She turned her head and reached to grab it to see who was calling.

Bangor car accident attorneys note teens continue to face higher risks of traffic collisions when riding with other teens. And the more passengers in the car, the higher the risks. In this tragic case, both back seat passengers, ages 16 and 19, were killed. Another passenger in the front seat was injured as was the driver, who was just convicted of two counts of vehicular manslaughter. She faces a maximum 60 years in prison.

Her father did not come to the witness stand willingly. It was only after he was arrested following a failure to appear on a subpoena.

What this tragic case shows is how one poor decision can alter the course of so many people’s lives forever.

It was estimated at the time of the wreck, the vehicle was traveling 75 mph in a 50 mph zone.

While the legislature in Maine has been proactive in barring text messaging for all drivers, the state only forbids novice driver’s with learner’s permits or provisional licenses from using cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. This law includes both handheld and hands-free devices.

However, the fine for a violation is only $100, and it wouldn’t have helped in this situation anyway¬† – the driver was 19 with an adult driver’s license.

The Oxford County Superior Court verdict in this case is especially timely in that the car full of teens was reportedly leaving a party at the time of a crash. The driver’s blood-alcohol level was technically under the legal limit, but as a minor, she wasn’t supposed to be drinking at all – let alone drinking and driving. She also had traces of marijuana in her system. Although this crash occurred at the tail end of winter break, summer break is the time when the roadways are most dangerous for teens. It’s when teens are more frequently unsupervised for longer stretches, their time is less structured and they have more access to their parents’ vehicles.

The National Safety Council dubs the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” for teens, with some 4,000 being killed nationally during that time over the course of the last five years.

Already this summer, we have seen numerous examples. In Rangeley, a teen from out-of-state who was set to graduate is instead in critical condition in a hospital bed fighting for her life after the 17-year-old driver of the vehicle (reportedly traveling at 90 mph), lost control and rolled on Route 4. She was one of three teens in the back seat, and one of five in the car.

In Hampden, Maine State Troopers report a 17-year-old teen lost control over vehicle and spun out on Interstate 95, careened backward into trees growing in the median. Her injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, but her vehicle was totaled.

These are not scenarios we hope to see repeated throughout the summer.

We encourage parents to speak with teens about responsible driving habits. Those include buckling up, refraining from drinking before driving, limiting the number of teen passengers and avoiding cell phone use. Traffic safety experts also advise parents to have a more structured routine for teens’ summers. Less idle time can mean less opportunity for trouble.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Lowe’s father: Kristina said she was driving, distracted by phone, May 21, 2014, Staff Report, Sun-Journal

More Blog Entries:

Maine Supreme Court Takes on Underinsured Motorist Coverage, April 18, 2014, Bangor Personal Injury Lawyer Blog


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