CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Memorial Day sparks a dangerous period of time on Ohio roads. AAA has called this the 100 deadliest days of the year.
The summer driving season is particularly hazardous for young drivers, especially teenagers. Motor vehicle accidents kill more people between the ages of 16-20 than any other demographic.
"Research tells us that it takes about seven years for you to be an experienced driver," said Lori Cook, Safety Advisor with AAA. "That doesn't necessarily mean you're good at it, but you figure, by the time you're 22 or 23, you've been exposed to a lot of driving situations."
Cook, who coaches driver education students, says it's important that inexperienced drivers get as much practice as they can behind the wheel before they're out on the roads on their own.
Ohio lawmakers are currently considering an amendment to existing license laws, which would require all new drivers to get a full year of training with a licensed driver, effectively raising the minimum age to 16 1/2.
Meanwhile, the BMV is working to expand its knowledge about what kind of driver education programs might be effective through a newly designed driver simulator, created by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The simulator takes students on a test run, then monitors where they do well and collects that data.
"We hope to be able to capture a lot of data that will help us make decisions when we're looking at driver education curriculum, so what are those data points, where are people failing, and where are people struggling, particularly youthful drivers, and where do we need to put our attention to help improve the process," said Charlie Norman, Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
If you want to see why that's so important, you can talk to the families of Josh Weil and Alex Doody. On May 14, 2015, both young men were a month away from their high school graduations. On that day, the two teens were passengers in a vehicle driven by an 18-year-old classmate.
Police records show the driver was going too fast when he lost control of his Jeep, hitting a tree. Both Weil and Doody died, devastating family and friends. Both teenagers were respected, intelligent, and talented athletes, looking forward to graduation and attending college in the fall.
"Josh and Alex were both so young when they died, they were 18, they both had certain dreams for themselves," said Josh's father, Michael Weil. 'Alex really wanted to play basketball in college and Josh was thinking about lacrosse, but really excited about learning more and so they hadn't yet scripted their future and they didn't get chance to, and that's hard."
In memory of the boys, the families created the “Catch Meaning Fund.” Each year, they host a May music festival, raising money for organizations that help young people fulfill their dreams.
"I hope that all of those children continue to think about Josh and Alex, to remember how they died, but more important, to remember how they lived, and to find meaning in their lives every day, in memory of Josh and Alex," said Michael Weil.
The fourth annual festival for the Catch Meaning Fund is Sunday, May 26 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
To find out more about the mission of Catch Meaning, this weekend’s music fest, or to donate to the Catch Meaning Fund, go here.