Who: Kathy McRoberts of C.L.I.C.K
Our organization was formed in the wake of the death of our two children, along with two other children, in a single car crash in Clinton County on August 12, 2002. Our organization consists of the Clermont County family members related to all of the teens killed on that date, as well as friends and community members. Since that date, we have dedicated ourselves to educating as many teens as possible to try to prevent this heartache from happening to other families. Our children were four of six teens riding in a 1995 Geo Prizm on State Route 28.
The four teenagers who were killed were riding in the back seat of the car with no seat belts. Even though they had been raised to wear seat belts, there were more passengers in the car than seat belts, and regrettably, they chose not to wear them that day.
The driver of the car was going 73 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. Unfortunately, she and the passenger in the front seat used an illegal substance before the teens set out that day to go swimming. The driver of the car had her license just short of three months. The teen in the front passenger seat had his license for about a year, but it had been suspended once for a traffic violation.
During the trip, the front seat passenger reached over and grabbed the steering wheel of the car, causing the inexperienced driver to lose control and crash, killing the three 16-year-olds and one 17-year-old in the back seat. All four died at the scene.
There were bad choices made that day: Illegal substances were used, the passengers in the back seat failed to wear seat belts, the driver sped nearly 20 miles per hour faster than the legal limit, and the front seat passenger behaved irresponsibly by grabbing the wheel. In a court proceeding, it was stated by a psychiatrist that teen boys do not have full frontal lobe development, and therefore, cannot adequately judge the results of their actions.
Because of the events that happened on that date, we strongly believe that 15 years and 6 months is much too young for a temporary instruction permit. We also agree with AAA that there should be a limit on the number of passengers in a vehicle driven by a teen with a temporary instruction or a probationary permit.
Regardless of how many seatbelts there are in a vehicle, too many people cause a distraction to an inexperienced driver. It doesn’t matter if they are family members or friends—too many passengers cause distractions. The driver that killed our children did not have the experience or knowledge to control her car in a dangerous situation. Most cities and towns have a curfew established already. A curfew does help, but passenger limitations are more important.
Kim and I and our fellow members of C.L.I.C.K. are strongly in support of Representative Raga’s House Bill 343, which will go a long way toward preventing teenagers from taking the kinds of risks that our teens took while operating and riding in a motor vehicle.
As you move forward with intelligent and thoughtful debate, I trust that in the end you will make your decision based on the personal well-being and public safety of this high-risk population. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.