Teens seem to love dangerous activities, but unfortunately, accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers. Relatively new to their choices of stupid and dangerous activities is car surfing.
Car surfing is where one person drives a vehicle on public roads while one or more people get out and onto the roof, hood, or trunk. It was popularized decades ago by the movies “Teen Wolf” (see clip below) and “Footloose.” While both ‘80s movies have memorable scenes where characters ride on the outside of the vehicle, there are seemingly no consequences for their stupidity. This is quite a bit different from reality.
Solid numbers are hard to pin down.
According to the Centers for Disease Control report published in 2008, at least 99 people have died or sustained serious injuries as a result of this dangerous activity since 1990. That might not sound like a lot, but the study primarily counted newspaper reports. Police reports only list car surfing as traffic injuries, so the reported number of injuries and deaths is likely far lower than the actual number.
A 2009 study, titled “Neurological injuries from car surfing,” published by the US National Library of Medicine, documented injuries of teens and young adults hurt while car surfing. All the participants were suffered serious head injuries, while more than half received permanent damage. Some teens even had sections of their skull removed to help ease brain swelling.
Online videos aren’t helping.
Recently, online videos have shown teenagers participating in “ghost riding,” an activity similar to car surfing, but without anyone in the car. The driver gets out of the vehicle while it is in motion and dances or walks alongside while it travels down the road. There is a positive here, as ghost riding is generally limited to 5 mph. The negatives are plenty, as there is no one in control, and several ghost riders have accidentally crashed their cars or run themselves over.
Many YouTube videos show car surfing or ghost riding “fails,” a great reminder that the chance of negative consequences is rather high for such a dangerous activity. While injury accidents are rare on YouTube, plenty of videos show vehicles impacting anything from a mailbox to another car, and causing thousands of dollars in damages. If the chance of injury doesn’t warn you away from car surfing, maybe the financial damages will.
“It hurts to be alive.”
A few years ago, Florida teen Hannah Huntoon fell off a car she had been car surfing and suffered traumatic injuries. Her head injuries were severe enough that she had to re-learn how to walk and speak. NBC’s Today show interviewed her, in which she offered a warning to others.
“My life before the accident was fun,” Huntoon told Today. “I would be out all the time, always exercising and dancing. Now I can’t really do a lot of that. Everything’s more difficult. It hurts to be alive.”
Do NOT try this at home!