Thursday, June 3, 2010

How Many Teens Have to Die on the Streets of San Diego?

It’s happened too many times here in San Diego County this year. Seven times since October according to the San Diego “Union Tribune”.

That’s 7 fatal car accidents involving high school age teenaged drivers. That’s a lot. The kids didn’t get it figured out after one or two. And they won’t after this one either. Don’t you know, kids are immortal. Tell that to grieving parents.

I guess that I’ve believed for quite some time that teens should get their licenses (with restrictions) at about 17. The reason I believe this is a bit different and I think it would be interesting to research. I believe that a drivers license is a critical thing for kids in terms of the decisions that they have to make. When they get behind the wheel of a car, they’re making decisions that are literally “life or death”. Make too big a mistake in either judgment or execution and someone can die. But kids are immortal and nothing’s going to happen to them, is it.

But, kids still die. This latest death was caused by a 17 year old driver who had only had her license for 2 months. By law, she was supposed to be in the car alone. She had her best friend in the front seat and 3 boys in the back that she had picked up to give a ride. She hit a truck head-on. The boys were all injured—2 of them seriously. The two guys in the truck were hurt. Her best friend is dead. She was doing 80 in a 40 zone. 80! Damn. It’s just so stupid.

(Google images photo)

What should happen to her? That’s a good question. She did something incredibly stupid. She killed someone. Why? It’s against the law in the first place for a 2 month driver to have ANYONE in the car unless there’s a licensed driver over 23 in the car. It’s against the law to exceed the speed limit by 40 miles an hour. It’s against the law to drive outside your lane. And because of that the state must seriously consider felony manslaughter charges.

Now, the parents of the young girl who was killed have asked the District Attorney’s office not to prosecute the driver. I don’t know about that. Was a crime committed? How serious a crime? Whose job is it to determine whether someone is prosecuted? Certainly not the parents of either the victim or the driver.

If it were my own kid who was driving, what would I think or do? If it were my daughter whose funeral I’m going to attend, what would I think or do? I don’t know that I could be that charitable, but then again, I’m not really vindictive either.

I think in a society governed by laws, that the decision to prosecute is irrespective of the family of the victim. That’s what the social contract is all about. We abrogate that right to the government. If we agree with the notion (like with convicted double murder/rapist John Gardner III) that the victim’s family can plead for either mercy or vengeance at the time of sentencing then that is the time for the family of the victim to come forward and “petition” the judge.

I don’t know anymore. What I do know is that I’m tired of this carnage. Kids are going to do stupid things behind the wheel, just like they do stupid things at other times. Hopefully, they’ll “get away with it” with only a good scare and perhaps a ticket. But sometimes, someone dies. When someone dies because of this kind of stupidity, who should pay?

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