Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sue Scheff: Riding in Trunks a Risky Trend Among Teens

Source: Connect with Kids

“As a parent, I think the consequences [for trunking] should be very severe. If that child is already driving, revoking driving privileges for a period of time would certainly be appropriate.”

– Bob Wilson, Chapter Director, National Safety Council

A startling new trend has emerged among teenagers. Just to get around the new graduated license laws - that ban new drivers from having other kids in the car - some teens are now riding in the trunk.

Every state is a little different, but the rules for teen driving across the country are getting stricter.

16-year-old Karla Greene explains: “Once you get your license you can only have family members in the car.”

“And then,” says 18-year-old Matt Simon, “you can’t drive past midnight until you turn 18.”

But, says Bob Wilson of the National Safety Council, “we’re trying to keep our teens safe - and it’s proven that by restricting other teenage passengers it reduces risk to them.”

But many teens, inconvenienced by the new rules, have found a way to get around them.

It’s called “trunking.”

“I’ve ridden in the trunk a few times,” says 20-year-old David Mack, “We had too many people in the car and I was the smallest one, so it all came down to me.”

But many kids fail to realize that trunking is not only illegal- it’s incredibly dangerous.

Best friends Chris Snyder and Scott Atchison were riding in the trunk of a car when they hit a tree. “The trunk lid popped open in the crash, ejected them onto the highway and they were run over,” says Wilson.

Sadly, both teens died.

Experts say parents need to make the driving laws explicit.

“It’s the parents responsibility for getting their teenager through the teenage years safely,” explains Wilson. “Certainly the trunking issue comes into play- cell phone use, alcohol, drug use, seatbelt use- all of those are parent responsibilities to make sure their teen is compliant.”

Karla Greene is getting her license in just a few days. She plans on abiding by the laws and advises other teens to do the same. “Just deal with the time, just wait, learn to drive, you know, make sure you know what you’re doing before you start having other people in the car. And just follow the laws.”

Tips for Parents

If you find that your child has been “trunking,” make the consequences severe. Suspend all driving privileges for a period of time. (Bob Wilson, National Safety Council)

Maintain a zero-tolerance policy with your teen regarding alcohol - on and off the road. (National Safety Council)

If your state does not have teen driving restrictions, set your own. Make sure your teen is able to drive safely before they drive at night or with friends in the car. (Allstate Insurance)
Any unbelted passenger is at extreme risk in an accident- whether they are in the cabin or in the trunk. Insist that your child always wears a seatbelt. (Bob Wilson, National Safety Council)

American Automobile Association
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Transportation Safety Board