Editorial: Deaths prompt tough questions

Published 9:05 am Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In three crashes over the weekend — a weekend of prom celebrations for many schools — 10 people died. Seven of them were teenagers.

And you probably had the same reaction to reading that story in Monday’s paper as so many others did: “That is tragic.”

But then you likely thought the same thing, too: “We are so glad it didn’t happen here.”

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Some involved alcohol. Some did not.

Either way, the crashes are signs that some communities might not be doing all they should to prevent irresponsible teenage driving.

The crashes are a gut check for local communities — from Albert Lea to Northwood to Wells — to ask themselves whether there is something they could do better. The best solution is prevention.

Take the crash of a pickup that rolled over south of Altura Friday. Four Lewiston-Altura High School girls finished classes and headed on their way to a track meet.

They were riding in the cab. The truck rolled in a ditch, and all four were thrown from the pickup because they weren’t wearing their seat belts. That raises many necessary, gut-check questions:

Do the police in the Lewiston-Altura area frequently cite drivers for failure to buckle up? Getting away with it only encourages not using them.

Does the school do a safe-driving program for all students once or twice a year? Teach children the consequences.

Do the parents wear their seat belts when in the cars with their children? Set the right example.

Do students and student groups do enough to encourage teens to do the right thing, even when peers do the wrong thing? Even one girl in that pickup saying, “I want to wear my seat belt,” could have made a difference.

These are tough questions, but if it had been a plane crash, goodness knows the people would have tough questions for the pilot and airline.

And these are questions that can be asked in places where collisions didn’t take lives.