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James Dean 50 Years Later

He was an icon back in the 1950s, a legend seen as either a very cool tough guy or a troubled teen, depending on your perspective. Yet, there is agreement that James Dean died too soon ? in a car crash that reinforced both images. He was only 24 when he died in a high-speed crash in 1955, and the “Giant” lessons the “Rebel Without a Cause” left bear relearning today ? 60 years later.

In Florida, driver fatalities are highest in the 20-24 age group. The latest Florida crash statistics from 2014 show more than 15 percent of all fatal car crashes involved drivers between age 20 and 24. The next highest percentage of fatal crashes involved the very next age segment ? drivers aged 25-29. Those happen to be the highest categories for suspected drug- and alcohol-related crashes, too. It’s no coincidence.

In total, that’s 853 drivers killed, in an age group that has proven (statistically) to put itself at risk on the highways often carelessly and mindless of the toll their loss has on family and friends. There are other costs, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated the costs of crash deaths by state. Florida ranks third highest on the list, at $3.16 billion (in a 2010 analysis of 2005 crash-related death costs) for the highest medical and work loss costs.

The major point of the CDC analysis: Crashes are preventable.

It begins by shopping for a safe car, and it includes driving that car like a responsible young person who desires to live well and long enough to be a responsible old person.