A lunch-hour car crash that killed four Ulysses High School students Thursday is a timely reminder to Kansas teenagers and their parents of the special dangers that face young drivers.
It also may fuel renewed debate concerning additional legal restrictions for teen drivers in Kansas.
Five 16- and 17-year-old girls were traveling in a car that pulled in front of a semitrailer truck on U.S. Highway 160. Three of the girls were dead at the scene, one died while being airlifted to a hospital and a fifth survived and was in intensive care at an Amarillo, Texas, hospital.
The crash occurred during the open lunch hour at Ulysses High School. None of the girls was wearing a seat belt. This is a devastating loss for the school of about 450 students and southwest Kansas town with a population of about 5,000. Unfortunately, there is ample opportunity for this tragedy to be repeated in Kansas and elsewhere.
In recent years, placing additional restrictions on young drivers has gained support in some states. The Ulysses crash feeds into proposals that would, for instance, ban young drivers from having more than one passenger in their cars. It's easy to imagine the distraction for any driver, let alone a teen driver, of having four teenage girls as passengers.
Teens - and often their parents - balk at raising the driving age or adding restrictions for young drivers. Even though the motivation is to save young lives, additional restrictions have been a tough sell in the Kansas Legislature. Legislators shouldn't pass new laws in reaction to a single fatal accident, but this week's crash certainly raises questions about whether new restrictions would lessen the incidence of sad accidents like the one in Ulysses.