Teens and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an incredibly dangerous combination. Our Atlanta vehicle accident attorneys know that inexperienced teenage drivers and drunk drivers, separately, both constitute dangers on highway but are also all too often combined.
Usually most people think of drunk driving accidents as involving cars, and that is most often the case. But there was a news story this week about a teen involved in a DUI while driving a motorcycle. Claire Bruce Thomas, a 17-year-old from Canton was driving southbound on Lower Bethany Road near Hornage Road in Cherokee County last Friday evening at around 8:30 or 9 pm when he swerved into oncoming traffic as he tried to round a curve in the road. Thomas hit a Chrysler Town & Country on the front driver’s side, driven by a 68-year-old woman from Ball Ground, injuring the driver but not severely enough that she had to go to the hospital by ambulance. She was treated at North Cherokee. Thomas himself had to be airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center hospital. And Georgia State Patrol allege that Thomas was under the influence when the accident occurred. He has been charged with DUI, failure to maintain lane, driving too fast for conditions, and driving in violation of license restrictions.
The National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that for 2008, the most recent year with data, the highest percentage of driver fatalities when the blood alcohol level was above the legal limit was for motorcycle riders. Motorcycles already have higher fatality rates than cars and other vehicles, so it makes sense that DUI fatalities are also the highest. In Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety showed that 28 percent of Georgia accidents were alcohol related. At the same time, young drivers (those under the age of 20) accounted for 8.5 percent of Georgia drivers, but 12.8 percent of those involved in road accidents in Georgia. These statistics show the deadly combination of factors that happened with 17-year-old Mr. Thomas, who is lucky that there were no fatalities, including his own, in the accident he caused with his impaired driving. Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the US. The CDC states that in the country, seven teenagers die each day this way, which is about 2,700 teens per year. And another 282,000 teenagers are treated for injuries related to vehicle accidents. The problem of teenage drunk driving needs to continue to be addressed and those responsible held accountable if these statistics are to improve.