Say a prayer. Cross your fingers. Knock on wood. Whatever it takes, let's celebrate a significant milestone noted Sunday in The News-Times: More than an entire school year has passed since a Columbia County teen has died in a car crash in the county.
From the Feb. 28, 2003 death of Lakeside High School's Brandon Layton - in a crash for which the other driver is in court this week - to the Feb. 27, 2005 death of Greenbrier's Ryan Howell, 10 teens died on county roads.
Howell's death certainly will not be the last. But if there can be a silver lining in such a series of tragedies, perhaps theses deaths helped raise awareness of teen driving dangers.
Responses have included better driving-safety opportunities and a tougher stance from juvenile court on violators. The danger is still there, but these efforts certainly appear to be working.
The effects of tougher state restrictions on teen drivers are being felt, too. The rules have sometimes put more teens behind the wheel; for example, 16-year-olds can't transport non-family members for the first six months of their license, forcing groups to travel in a line of cars morbidly called a "funeral procession." But the threat of instant license suspension also has been credited with a drastic drop in teen crashes.
There's no way to know when the next tragedy will strike. Yet the memories of losing these young citizens, along with greater attention to driving safety, should at least make it less likely to be anytime soon.
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