A horrific Memorial Day car crash in Newport Beach, Calif., left five teenagers dead and a field of debris scattered across the road.
The teen driver's Infiniti was traveling southbound on Jamboree Road around 5:30 p.m. The sedan then veered off the road and into a tree. Police said the car split in half, and one half caught on fire. Four occupants were thrown from the car, and one person was partially ejected.
Kathy Lowe of the Newport Beach Police Department told ABC 7 said the cause of the crash has not been determined, but speed was a factor.
One officer at the site told ABC 7: "I've seen a lot of traffic collisions and this was, if not the worst, one of the worst traffic collisions I've seen in my 30-year career."
Speed and passengers in a car with teenagers can be a deadly mix. In March six teens died in Ohio when their SUV crashed into a guardrail and flipped over into a swampy pond. So how can a parent protect their young drivers?
- No passengers in the car. State laws vary on what kind of passenger teenagers can have in the car while on their learner's permit, but once they're fully licensed they can legally drive with whomever they want. A passenger in the car of a teen driver however increases the likelihood of a fatal car crash by 44% with just one passenger. That rate doubles when you add a second passenger. Until your driver is more mature and experienced try keeping their car trips solo.
- Set ground rules. Speeding tickets, seat belt infractions, or any run-ins with traffic cops should prompt action from parents. Parents should always control a teen's access to a vehicle. It may be best to keep a family vehicle that everyone uses rather than give a teen his or her own wheels. This will prompt responsible behavior and they'll have to check in more often.
- No challenging driving. We all have experienced the white knuckle driving through a snowstorm, but teens that are still getting down the basics shouldn't face these challenges.
- Keep communication open. If they make a mistake or get into an accident don't panic. They need to know they can come to you with their screw-ups and mistakes. It also helps if they can come to you when they can't drive due to drinking at a party. NHTSA reports that 25% of teens killed in car crashes had a Blood Alcohol limit over the legal limit.