Fatal Teen Driving Accident in Hall County: Avoiding Danger to Teenage Passengers


January 05, 2012

A Hall County man faces vehicular homicide charges related to a fatal July 4th rollover accident that resulted in the tragic death of two Atlanta teenagers. Tony James Delong, 19, was driving his Jeep Wrangler on Whelchel Mill Road when he lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle left the roadway, collided with an embankment, and rolled over several times.

Two teenagers, Brandon Hodges, 14, of Lawrenceville, and Christian Walker, 16, of Cumming were not wearing seat belts and were ejected from the vehicle during the rollover collision. Both teenagers were tragically killed during the single-vehicle accident. Delong is also charged with driving too fast for road conditions and having passengers that were not wearing seat belts.

This tragic Atlanta car crash is a grim reminder that car accidents remain the leading cause of death amongst teens, accounting for a third of all deaths for this age group according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Teenagers are involved in four times the number of car crashes per mile driven as all other drivers. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reflects that auto accidents involving teenagers ranging from 15-19 result in 3,000 fatalities and 350,000 injuries that are serious enough to result in emergency room visits.

It is not surprising that this motor vehicle crash involving a teen driver occurred with other teenagers in the vehicle. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that having passengers in the vehicle is a significant risk factor in teen auto accidents. The study also revealed that as the number of passengers in the vehicle with a teen driver increases the likelihood of being involved in a teen car crash rises accordingly. The JAMA study reported the risk of a car accident involving 17-year-old teen drivers based on the relative risk of death per ten million trips, as compared to 17-year-old teen drivers with no passengers, was as follows:

  • 1 Passenger: 1.48
  • 2 Passengers: 2.58
  • 3 or More Passengers: 3.07

The increased risk of teenage accidents when passengers are in the vehicle is the reason many states including Georgia restrict the ability of new drivers to transport passengers with graduated driver’s license (GDL) programs. A provisional license granted to teen drivers under Georgia’s GDL places strict limits on the transportation of passengers including:

  • A new teen driver cannot have any passengers in their car for the first six months after receiving a provisional license except for immediate family.
  • During the second six months after receiving a provisional license, a new teen driver may only transport a single passenger who is under 21 who is not an immediate family member.

The recent tragedy reveals the importance of limiting the ability of teen drivers who have less driving experience and a tendency to engage in higher risk driving practices from transporting passengers. It is important that parents also model safe practices, such as wearing seat belts. Seat belts may keep teenagers in the vehicle and reduce the severity of injury in an Atlanta or Georgia car accident. Studies have shown that teenagers are much more likely to wear seat belts if their parents always wear seat belts and insist that other vehicle occupants do the same.

If you have been involved in an accident in which a driver or passenger was injured or killed, the experienced Atlanta accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing victims of teenage auto accidents since 1984. Our Atlanta car accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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