Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 1, 2014

Take caution with holiday traveling

STILLWATER, Okla. — One Stillwater woman remembers the Fourth of July all too well – it was the day her 19-year-old son died.

Gail Lamb is the mother of a teenager who was killed instantly in a head-on collision with a pickup.

Lamb, a former teacher, said fireworks aren’t the No. 1 killer for teens on the Fourth of July. Car crashes are.

The summer months pose a significant risk for teen drivers that are new to the road and out of school. Traffic accidents are the No. 1 killer of teens across the nation, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

The safety office reported in October that numbers for teen driving deaths are on the decline. Mothers like Lamb will never forget what killed her son.

Lamb said the fatal moment happened when her son was driving up a hill where a car full of teenagers had stopped. He slammed on the breaks, swerved to the left and hit a pickup head-on in the opposite lane.

“The emergency room was full of kids and parents crying,” she said. “It was a nightmare.”

Lamb said she would do anything to prevent anyone from going through the same thing.

“They just need to know – please, please, use someone as a safe driver, someone who hasn’t been drinking,” she said.

Last year over the Fourth of July weekend, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol worked three fatality crashes resulting in four people dead, Lt. Betsy Randolph said.

Statewide, there were 180 collisions and 30 of those were alcohol related.

Troopers made 149 arrests last year.

Nationally, more than half of drivers were drunk in fatal accidents between 9 p.m. and midnight on the holiday weekend in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

AAA reports that an estimated 34.8 million people will be on the road this Fourth of July weekend, up 2.2 percent from last year.

The American Red Cross offers a free First Aid app for smartphones and tablets. The organization offers five things all drivers should do to stay safe:

• Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.

• Do not drink and drive.

• Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cellphone to call or text.

• Use caution in work zones.

• Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches or during inclement weather.

The Red Cross also offers fireworks safety, grilling safety and swimming safety with its free swim app at redcross.org.

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