Teen Drivers And SUVs Are A Lethal Combination

Cars — and especially SUVs — are lethal machinery. They’re even more lethal when combined with young, inexperienced drivers.

Lethal SUV

The other night at around 10:30pm, nearly asleep after a 19-hour day, we heard a car skid outside our home.

We looked out the window to see that a Ford Suburban had spun out of control, side-swiped one of our oak trees, skidded over the sidewalk and through our bushes, and landed halfway into our front yard.

I couldn’t get good pictures from my phone that night, but I’ve posted on this page a few next-morning images of the damage. More pictures are here.

A cop had been following this lethal SUV, and one minute later four patrol cars were parked in front of my house with emergency lights flashing in full.

Minutes later a group of young girls got out of the SUV, escorted and then questioned by the police.

The driver was 16 years old with a beginner permit — and NOT permitted to be driving after dark. That made her, legally, an unlicensed driver.

One of the officers on the scene told me she was driving erratically, though was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She was just an inexperienced driver, speeding, when she shouldn’t have been behind the wheel in the first place.

With this monster truck and tiny young girl on my lawn, I asked her how fast she was going. She said she was going under the speed limit and just lost control. I thought to myself: Bullshit. You don’t spin out like that on relatively dry roads (it had rained earlier that day) going less than 30 miles per hour.

I was livid that night. In fact, I still am.

Lethal SUVI understand that teenagers — and all people — sometimes do stupid things. I, too, fall into this camp. Sure, this was an accident. But it was horribly reckless.

This girl not only caused damage to my home, but violated my sense of home as a safe haven.

Think about it…

I often walk home on that sidewalk — the one she plowed over.

My kids — ages five and under — often ride their bikes on that sidewalk, they and play in that yard.

I’m left with a paranoid feeling and it lingers. I think of Andrew Burrous, a nine-year-old struck by a 16-year-old girl in an SUV.

I’m reminded of it when I see the chewed up tree in front of my home. When I see Ford SUVs, or any SUV. When I walk along quaint sidewalks in my town. And especially whenever my kids are on a sidewalk, or near a street.

That’s why I plan to contact the driver and her parents and request three things:

  1. Meet my kids, who live and play in the space she violated — the ones who, thank God, were not riding their bikes on that sidewalk at the time of this recklessness.
  2. Come to my home to see the mess in daylight and help clean it up.
  3. Pay for replanting of bushes and grass.

Face it: Cars — and especially SUVs — are lethal machinery. They’re even more lethal when combined with young, inexperienced drivers (or drunk ones, but at least they’re outright illegal). Sure, they be more safe inside, but they’re all the more lethal for pedestrians and other cars.

This incident prompts another paranoia of mine: drivers distracted by mobile devices and other interruptive gadgets, increasingly showing up on automotive dashboards. But that’s another post.

How do we deal with this problem?


HighTechDad pointed me to his post on Ford’s teen driver education program. Hey Scott Monty, can you help educate this girl, an owner of a Ford Suburban?


I contacted the driver’s father. He was defensive and said that the roads were probably slippery and that she hit some black ice (it was dry and about 45 degrees that night). I requested his daughter come to my home with him and apologize to my family. He said he’ll talk to her. Nearly a week later and no response. Lame.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

Join the Conversation


  1. Wow!  Glad everyone is okay (both in an outside the vehicle) and that damage to your property wasn’t worse.  I like your approach with the driver and her family and would love to know their response when you do meet them.  Kids and cars is a stressful proposition for all parents, and I am sure the parents of this 16 year old are as infuriated as you are, especially if she was driving at night without their knowledge.  We take safety for granted in so many ways, and we have to in order to maintain our sanity, but it is also healthy to be reminded that danger does lurk around us, and there is perhaps more we can do (and teach our kids to do) to stay safe.  Thanks for the reminder…

  2. Are beginner drivers allowed to have other minors in the car with them? Was this a local driver?  I am so sorry for your experience and I would be freaked out as well!  Let us know how the meeting goes.

  3. Scary. Even Highbrook has the occasional teen flooring it — attracted to the fact there’s little traffic I’m sure. I want my kids to be able to ride their bikes, play in the neighborhood. Not really an option without parental guidance and even that isn’t necessarily going to stop a horrible accident.

    1. I would like a stop sign at every intersection on Pelhamdale, and all the other streets in Pelham, for that matter. (Nice to see you last night at NYAC Mardi Gras party…didn’t connect the dots until now.)

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