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Teen death reveals the dangers of 'car surfing'

Tanvier Peart is a happy wife, mom of two little boys, writer and creative director who loves working out...and a good cupcake. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, her family now calls the Oklahoma City area home, and embraces sweet tea in...

This growing trend is causing serious injuries and fatality

Teens are taking the concept of a thrill ride to the next level with this unthinkable stunt. Parents need to speak to their kids about the dangers of car surfing.

What some consider harmless entertainment is claiming the lives of more than half of its participants. The CDC has some startling information regarding car surfing, a dangerous activity that involves participants riding on the outside of a moving vehicle. Some choose the roof or hood, while others opt to suspend themselves from car doors and windows.

16-year-old Shana Chavez jumped onto the back of her co-worker's bumper for a quick spin around the parking lot that ended in tragedy. KWWL News reports the teen died from a traumatic injury after falling off the vehicle.

"Car surfing can turn deadly with just one wrong movement by the driver or the person riding," Greg Buelow, a Cedar Rapids Public Safety officer told NBC News. "When you consider that we require that people be belted inside the car for their safety, standing on the roof of the car, on the hood, or on the back bumper while a vehicle is moving is extremely dangerous."

What's scary about car surfing, outside of the act itself, is the risk of injury — regardless of the car's speed. The Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report notes incidents of car surfing deaths at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour. Sometimes all it can take is an unexpected bump or wrong turn for tragedy to follow.

Parents need to have a serious chat with their children about the risks of car surfing. Good Morning America points out that those driving the car can face charges that include reckless driving and even involuntary manslaughter should a participant die from related injuries.

Shamefully I must admit I tried car surfing when I was in middle school. We didn't have a name for it back then, but I can recall jumping on the back of my mother's car as she turned into our neighborhood. It was a one-time event that I never tried again — thanks to swift discipline. At the time, I never thought it was all that dangerous considering I saw a little boy do it in the movie Dick Tracy. Now there are countless YouTube videos of young drivers literally trying to surf on top of a moving vehicle or hang from the side of a car to mimic a stunt from an action movie.

The death of Shana Chavez is extremely unfortunate and a reminder about the importance of car safety. Even the most harmless form of participation can lead to deadly results.

More on teen driving

5 Rules for teen drivers to keep them focused and save lives
10 Ways parents can help their teens be safe drivers
Teaching teens to be safe drivers

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