Car Surfing Kills Teens

THURSDAY Oct. 16, 2008 -- Parents need to talk their teens about the dangers of car surfing, in which people ride on the outside of a moving vehicle, a new government report shows.

To come to this conclusion, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed articles about car surfing published in U.S. newspapers from January 1990 to August 2008.

There were 99 articles about car surfing incidents, including 58 that ended in fatalities. Injuries and deaths occurred at a wide range of vehicle speeds, ranging from 5 mph to 80 mph. The average age of those injured or killed was 17.6 years old, and males accounted for 70 percent of the victims.

The CDC researchers also found:

  • Most car surfing injuries and deaths occurred in August, and 74 percent of the incidents occurred in the Midwest and the South.
  • In 75 percent of cases, death was caused by a bump or blow to the head.
  • In 29 percent of the articles, there was mention of a sudden vehicle movement or maneuver, such as an abrupt turn or sudden braking, which caused the person car surfing to fall off the vehicle. Even at slow speeds, these types of falls can cause serious injuries or death.

The findings appears in this week's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication.

"While car surfing may be appealing to teens and others, our recommendation is simple -- don't do it. Even a vehicle moving at a slow speed can be deadly," study author Dr. John Halpin said in a CDC news release.

"Parents should talk to their teens about the dangers of car surfing, especially if they feel that car surfing has gained attention and popularity in their community," he added.

For this study, Halpin and colleagues excluded reported cases of injuries caused by activities similar to car surfing, such as ghost riding, in which a driver exits and dances next to a moving vehicle.

The study was released just before National Teen Safe Driving Week, Oct. 19-25.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers parents a list of rules for teen drivers.

Posted: October 2008


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