The Bird Box Car Accident in Utah Exemplifies the Dangers of Driving “Challenges” & Highlights Teen Drivers’ Willingness to Take Risks behind the WheelJanuary 23, 2019
Last week, a 17-year-old driver in Salt Lake City, UT drove into oncoming traffic before hitting a light pole and then a concrete barrier. The driver was blindfolded at the time, with her beanie pulled over her eyes. That’s because she was participating in the “Bird Box Challenge,” a phenomenon spurred by a popular Netflix movie, in which the characters have to remain blindfolded to avoid seeing visions that cause them to commit suicide.
Amazingly, neither driver reportedly suffered any injuries in this crash, though both vehicles and the surrounding road features did sustain substantial damage.
Commenting on this crash, the Layton Police Department tweeted:
Bird Box Challenge while driving…predictable result. This happened on Monday as a result of the driver covering her eyes while driving on Layton Parkway. Luckily no injuries.
Netflix also issued a statement regarding this crash and the Bird Box Challenge, tweeting:
Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE.
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The Bird Box Challenge Is Just the Latest Dangerous Driving Challenge to Cause Car Wrecks
While the Bird Box car accident in Utah will hopefully send the message that driving while blindfolded is never safe, acceptable, or smart, this “challenge” is by no means the first or only dangerous craze resulting in:
- Teen drivers intentionally operating vehicles unsafely
- Teen driver accidents, injuries, and deaths.
In fact, within the past 15 years, there have been at least two dangerous driving “challenges” that teen drivers across the U.S. have embraced with terrible consequences. These include:
- The “In My Feelings” Challenge – Arising from a Drake song of the same name, this challenge involves vehicle occupants jumping out of a car while the vehicle is still moving and doing a little dance to “In My Feelings.” In one tragic instance, an 18-year-old Iowa teen attempting this challenge tripped as she was exiting her moving vehicle, suffering a skull fracture and serious traumatic brain injury.
- The “Ghost Riding” Challenge – As a version of car surfing that was popular in the 80’s and 90’s, this “challenge” took off around 2006 when rapper E-40 released his hit song “Ghost Ride It.” Similar to the “In My Feelings” Challenge, Ghost Riding involves exiting a moving vehicle and dancing alongside or on it. A number of accidents and injuries have been caused by teens trying this challenge, including two deaths in California. Tragically, this challenge has not disappeared with the early aughts, as a 16-year-old teen in California suffered catastrophic injuries attempting this challenge as recently as 2017.
Participating in dangerous driving challenges like these is a form of negligence. When that negligence causes accidents and injuries, the victims will likely have grounds to seek financial recovery for their injuries, suffering, and losses.
These civil cases may not be the only legal action facing negligent motorists, however. Depending on the circumstances, drivers who participate in these dangerous challenges and who cause harm may also be criminally negligent and be charged with anything from reckless driving to vehicle manslaughter.
When Teens Cause Car Accidents: Are the Parents Liable?
When teen drivers cause wrecks in Texas, the law dictates that the parents may be liable for the resulting damages IF there’s reason to believe that the parents’ failures in controlling their child led or contributed to the accident. Specifically, this means that if the teen is known to be a reckless or unskilled driver and (s)he causes an accident, the parents can be liable for that accident because they should have taken action to prevent their teen from getting behind the wheel.
Alternately, if a teen who has a clean driving record and a history of safely operating vehicles causes a crash, it’s unlikely that the parents would be accountable for that accident.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to teen drivers and car accidents, the bottom line is that:
- Teens commonly make unsafe choices behind the wheel, and these choices result in accidents and serious injuries all too often.
- Parents can be liable for the wrecks caused by their teens. They can also take action, before accidents happen, to try to guide their teens towards making safe choices while driving.
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