A tragic, high-speed crash in Newport Beach claimed five young lives on Memorial Day. According to a KABC news report, the fatal accident occurred south on Jamboree Road north of Island Lagoon in Newport Beach when an Infiniti, driven by 17-year-old Abdulrahman M. Alyahyan, veered off the roadway and slammed into a tree. The impact was so severe that it sheared the vehicle and started a fire. Four of the victims died at the scene and a fifth was pronounced dead at an area hospital.
The victims, all from Irvine, were identified as Alyahyan, a senior at University High School; Nozad Al Hamawendi, 17, a junior at Irvine High School; Cecilia D. Zamora 17, a junior at Irvine High School; Aurora Christine Cabrera, 16, a sophomore at Irvine High School; and Robin Cabrera, 17, a senior at Irvine High. Police say this newport beach car crash is one of the deadliest in recent history.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of all these young victims. This is an incident that has plunged the school community and the entire city in grief and mourning. I offer my deepest condolences to these grieving families.
Although officials are still investigating the cause of this crash, they have released statements saying that speed was a major factor. ABC News also reports that the 17-year-old driver, Alyahyan, did not have a valid license. Court records show that he had started an application with the DMV, but never completed it. It is not known if he had a permit. According to court records, Alyahyan was also found in violation of his provisional license on April 20 in Irvine. It is not clear at this time why Alyahyan was driving the Infiniti and to whom the vehicle belonged.
Speed, Teens and Cars – A Fatal Combination
According to the website, Teendrivingsource.com, speeding was a factor in more than half of fatal crashes with a teen behind the wheel. Among crashes attributed to a critical teen driver error, 21 percent of serious teen driver crashes were due to driving too fast for road conditions. Studies also show that teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and to allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next).
Safety Tips for Teen Drivers
It is critical that teenagers are educated with regard to what is safe driving. Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) programs are in place for a reason. It is really important that teens are “phased in” as drivers rather than asked to drive with little or no practice. There are several safety measures teens can take to ensure that they are driving safely:
- Obey the speed limit
- Turn off your cell phone and do not text, not even when the car is stopped at a light.
- Minimize distractions. Do not eat, drink, play loud music or adjust the radio dial when you are driving.
- Avoid transporting other teen passengers. Adding teen passengers in a vehicle with a teen driver significantly increases the risk of a crash.
- Choose a safe car, one with safety equipment such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and airbags. Pick a vehicle with an excellent crash safety record.
Teaching our teens safe driving habits and serving as good role models may be our only hope to prevent such tragedies in the future.