A preliminary report from an investigation into a Christmas Day crash that killed three Geneva teens and injured two others revealed two all-too-common circumstances — the vehicle was traveling well above the posted speed limit, and the victims were not wearing seat belts.

That information does nothing to mitigate the grief of this tragic loss of life. However, it underscores what reams of data and endless anecdotal evidence tell us: Excessive speed and the disuse of seat belts increase the possibility of fatalities in crashes.

That’s not to assign blame; in traveling too fast, and without buckling up, the teenagers appear to have been doing what far too many drivers do routinely. A gentle reminder from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency about the requirements of the state’s graduated driver’s license that restrict passengers for 16-year-olds may have come across as insensitive to some, but may well be instructive to many who are unaware of the restrictions.

The horrific loss of these young people will be felt for a long time. As a result, many drivers will surely operate their vehicles with a renewed awareness of their speed and their surroundings, and an effort to make seat-belt use second nature.

These are changes everyone should make when getting behind the wheel, if for no other reason than to prevent other families from experiencing the pain of sudden loss.

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