NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered to be the deadliest days of summer for teens. It’s a time that’s not only difficult for those underage, but oftentimes a hit of reality for parents.
Just ask Brad Bulla.
“He started playing the fiddle when he was four years old, and he was the national small fry fiddle champion when he was eight,” said Bulla as he described his son.
It’s a fairly simple instrument, with multiple strings and a strong base. However, the one that sits in Bulla’s home is special, not because of the fiddle, but because of the person who used to play it.
“He always made other people feel like whatever they were into or doing or saying was probably, you know, the most important thing, and because of that he attracted an immense amount of friends.,” described Bulla.
Now, the thought of his son Jed playing the fiddle is a welcomed memory after one day changed his family’s life forever.
“I got that fatal call and I collapsed,” remembered Bulla. “I came back to the worst nightmare any parent could go through, and suddenly you’re faced with the idea that you’ll never see you’re son again.”
While out of town for business in Texas, Bulla found out that, like many other teenagers, Jed was at a small party with friends. Jed had gotten into the car with a friend of his, who had also been drinking. Bulla explained what happened next as he held back tears.
“The truck plunged down the embankment,” Bulla said. “It landed in the median, and flipped and turned and neither was wearing seatbelts. Jed was ejected and flew about 50-60 feet. He landed on the pavement on the northbound lane on the right shoulder, and died of blunt force head trauma.”
The driver lost control of his vehicle and it left the road at nearly 100 mph, according to Bulla. Jed was thrown from the vehicle onto the pavement and died on Aug. 3, 2005.
Since his death, Bulla has dedicated his life to sharing his son’s story, in hopes of touching just one person to prevent another life from being lost.
“I honestly believe if I can touch a heart with that, I think that can change an individual’s decision and action and possibly save other people’s lives,” Bulla said. “For parents who have kids, or have influence over them, don’t be afraid to talk to them about this subject. I would give anything I own 10 times over, 100 times over if Jed could be sitting where you are to hear my story.”
According to AAA data, at least 2,108 teens are involved in a deadly crash every year. The research showed 31% of those crashes happened during the 100 deadliest days.
“One-hundred deadliest days sounds very scary, and it is. It’s because we see an increase in teen driving fatalities compared to the rest of the year,” said AAA Spokesperson Megan Cooper.
AAA said traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 16-19 years old. The organization states with every mile, the chance of a deadly crash happening is three times more likely compared to an adult.
Biggest risk factors for teen drivers include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving with a teen passenger
- Not wearing a seat belt
“They have more opportunities to engage in some of these behaviors, and that’s why it’s so important for parents to kind of double down as we head into the summer months and if you have a teen driver, even if you’ve been having those safe driving conversations, really continue those through the summer knowing that it’s a very dangerous time for teens,” explained Cooper.