An intensely sad trend continues.
Ryan Howell's death in a single-vehicle crash Sunday night comes two years after Brandon Layton died in a collision.
Howell, a 17-year-old Greenbrier High School student, died when his car ran off curvy, wet William Few Parkway and struck a utility pole as he headed home after his shift at Bojangle's. Layton, 18, had also just left work Feb. 28, 2003 when his car was struck by a wrong-way driver on River Watch Parkway.
In the two years between Howell's and Layton's deaths, eight other Columbia County students have died in vehicle crashes. Hope for an end to this awful trend seems fleeting.
Discussions about young drivers and traffic crashes are like the old tale about the weather: Everyone talks about it, but no one ever does anything to fix it. That isn't necessarily true in Georgia, where lawmakers have implemented some of the toughest teen driving restrictions in the country.
The laws seem to have helped: A recent study showed Georgia's teen traffic fatalities are falling.
Still, in the two years since Layton's death, Howell is the ninth teen to die in a Columbia County crash. Of those nine, all were at least in part the result of teen driver error, especially speeding -- and of the other three, adult or young-adult drivers were either drunk, speeding or both.
Lawmakers this year are considering tougher restrictions on teen drivers. Unfortunately, with the possible exception of the crash that killed two Greenbrier teens in 2003, the proposals wouldn't have prevented a single one of these untimely deaths.
Howell's death brings to four the number of Greenbrier High students killed in car crashes in the past two years. Evans and Harlem have lost two each, with one more each from Lakeside and Augusta Christian. With twice as many traffic fatalities as any other school, it's fitting that Greenbrier officials also have worked hardest on educational initiatives to slow down young drivers.
But as long as teen drivers nationwide exercise poor judgment in vehicles that enable them to go too fast, traffic crashes will continue to be the No. 1 cause of teen deaths. Parents must remind their children to slow down. Deputies must be ever more vigilant in stopping speeders. And judges must display even less tolerance for young drivers' infractions.
Adults caught in such a crackdown have no room for complaint. Ten deaths in two years is far too many lost children. These snuffed-out lives should mean enough to our community that, collectively, we work harder to keep more such deaths from occurring.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.