Three car wrecks in three different states claimed the lives of 15 teenagers in just three days: Most recently, near Chicago - where authorities found four teens dead after they believe the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a creek. Before that, five teens were killed in a fiery crash in Texas after running a stop sign and colliding with a fuel tanker. The driver was severely burned. In northeast Ohio, investigators say an SUV with a 19 year-old driver took a curve too fast, and flipped into a small lake - killing six of the eight teens in the vehicle.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Lieutenant Bill Bowers says driver distraction is a contributing factor. "They start playing music loud, singing, whatever. It just distracts the driver from the task at hand, and that's driving a motor vehicle."
More passengers can mean more distraction, and more weight to manuever. Heavier vehicles take longer to stop and slower speeds to turn. Bowers says the weight of the vehicle changes how the vehicle handles.
That's why Ohio has specific laws for drivers under the age of 18. "One non-family member with them in the vehicle," said Bowers. "And they're not allowed to travel between the hours of Midnight and 6 a.m."
Bowers hopes the recenet series of tragic teen wrecks will help bring to light the importance of driver responsibility. "If you're not going to pay attention when your driving, then you could end up killing or harming your best friend, a family member, or someone else ourside the vehicle," said Bowers. "The biggest thing we ask if for them to opperate a vehicle responsibly."