Teen Car Surfing: A Dangerous Trend

Car surfing is a dangerous stunt, performed predominantly by teens. This reckless phenomenon is growing in popularity. It's a thrill-seeking activity that involves a person intentionally riding on the exterior of a moving motor vehicle while another person is driving it. Injuries could come from falling off the moving vehicle, falling down onto the vehicle, jumping from the vehicle, or being hit by an object while on top of the moving vehicle. Variations, like hanging on the sides or a vehicle or being pulled by a rope, are also popular. Car surfing definitely has the potential for fatal consequences, which can occur even at low vehicle speeds, sometimes resulting from unanticipated movements of the vehicle, such as swerving or braking.

What seems like Summertime fun poses grave hazards, professionals warn. At least 99 people have died or sustained serious injuries as a result of car surfing since 1990, according to a 2008 article from Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. A Centers for Disease Control study found the average age for related injuries is 17. But injuries spanned ages 10-37, so car surfing isn't limited to teens. Several teens have died in Canada as a result of car surfing.

Car-surfers, mostly teen males, are largely "modelling or copycatting" the kinds of high-risk behaviour depicted in the TV show Jackass and video game Grand Theft Auto.

When you consider that we require that people be belted inside the car, standing on the roof of the car while travelling is extremely dangerous. Car surfing can turn deadly with just one wrong movement, on the driver's or rider’s part. When there is such a large window for severe consequences, one would wonder why people are even participating in this activity in the first place? The YouTube trend certainly has its place in reasons as to why teens are pulling these stunts. Many are videotaping these stunts in order to put them on their web page or on YouTube, to gain online attention. There are literally thousands of these videos flooding the internet.

Although teens understand the consequences of their behaviours, they still often don't believe they are at risk. By nature, teens are egocentric, which is due to brain development. They think they are invicible and that nothing will ever happen to them.

What Can Parents Do?

Although you cannot completely control your teen's actions, there are still ways to help prevent your teen from participating in such risky stunts. Your best bet? Effective communication. Parents and other influential adults should be aware of car surfing and its potentially deadly consequences, and talk to teens about the real risk of injury and death that car surfing poses. Parents can also play a key role in keeping teens safe by learning about graduated driver licensing laws and ensuring that their teen driver follows the rules of the road.

Learn more about teen car surfing at: www.cdc.gov.

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