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Dangerous teen activity an outsized accident risk

A new risk-taking activity known as "car surfing" is growing in popularity among teens, many of whom do not fully understand the serious safety risks -- and criminal charges -- that can follow. Across the United States, teenagers are currently hospitalized with serious injuries resulting from car surfing, which has one person ride on the exterior of a vehicle while another person mans the steering wheel.

Although there are no reliable data regarding the safety of these car accidents, the risk of serious injury or death is high. Teenagers and young adults in Ohio are cautioned against resorting to this type of thrill-seeking not only because of its threat to safety, but also owing to the criminal implications -- individuals involved in car surfing accidents have been charged with a range of crimes, including vehicular homicide, reckless driving, and hit-and-run, among others.

According to a 2008 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 58 fatalities and 41 non-fatal injuries between 1990 and 2008 were attributed to car surfing incidents. The study collected its data from news reports mentioning car surfing.

Car surfing is garnering more media attention at this time of year, with the summer months approaching and teens more likely to be spending time recreating on roadways. The car crash risk in general is higher the more time teens spend cruising the streets, but if they resort to activities such as car surfing, the effects could be disastrous.

Source: USA TODAY, "Teens at high risk in car surfing," Larry Copeland, May 22, 2012

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