This year, the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day spans only 98 days. But go back to the beginning of Memorial Day weekend and you'll find five passengers, ages 16 to 21, who crawled out from an overcrowded SUV that overturned at around 8:45 p.m. PT Saturday in the San Francisco suburb of Sausalito, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The driver of the vehicle, Angel Negron-Clay, 18, of Stockton, Calif., also climbed out and started running, police say. A Highway Patrol airplane just happened to be in the area, and using forward-looking infrared technology, authorities found Negron-Clay hiding in the bushes beside U.S. 101.
The percentage of teens who drink and drive has decreased by more than half in the past 25 years, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But 16- to 20-year-old drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, what state laws consider drunken driving, than drivers who have not been drinking.
“The vast majority of young people who die in alcohol-related crashes are killed on Friday and Saturday evenings,” Scott Hadland of Boston University School of Medicine told Reuters last year. He was the lead author of a study in The Journal of Pediatrics that looked at why children die in motor-vehicle crashes.
Even if the youths themselves are not drinking and driving, they are more likely to be killed because of adults who have been drinking and driving on weekend evenings, he said.
“Parents might consider limiting the extent to which young people drive during late hours on weekends,” Hadland told the news service.
Negron-Clay was charged with felony driving under the influence, felony hit and run causing death or injury and driving without a license. He remained Monday in Marin County jail, unable to meet his $50,000 bail.
His passengers, including one who had been sitting on another passenger's lap, were treated and released at the scene of the accident, according to KNTV-TV, San Jose.
Distracted driving is the cause of three in five teen crashes today, according to We Save Lives, an Arlington, Va.-based non-profit that works to change driving behavior. And teens' top distraction isn't cellphones but other passengers.
Negron-Clay is facing felony charges in part because the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 effectively pushed states and the District of Columbia to prohibit people younger than 21 from buying or publicly having alcoholic beverages. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration further encouraged states to adopt laws that prohibited under-21 drivers from having any alcohol in their system.
But what's legal and what can happen when people get together to celebrate graduations, or just being out of school for the summer, can be two different things.
An average of 260 teens are killed in car crashes stemming from any cause each month during the summer, an increase of more than a quarter compared with the other seasons, We Save Lives said. Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.
In 2015, more than one of every 100,000 Americans younger than 21 were killed in DUI accidents, the organization said.
Another crash at about 4 a.m. ET Sunday near Danville, W.Va., about 20 miles southwest of Charleston, had two victims: A 17-year-old Scott High School student, whose name was not released, died. His 19-year-old friend was driving.
Dylan Levi Price of Julian, W.Va., was charged with DUI causing death — his second drunken-driving arrest in the past year — and was booked into the Southwestern Regional Jail under a $100,000 bond, the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail reported. Price faces up to 15 years in prison and up to a $3,000 fine.