For newly licensed drivers, their close friends and family will often reiterate how essential it is to be cautious while driving. That doesn’t just mean traveling below the speed limit and using signals; safe driving is also about being aware of what other people around you are doing. Whether moving or ceased, a 2000 pound vehicle is something that nobody wants to ravage. I feel compelled to explain to you the importance of safe driving and how it can affect your life and those that are closest to you.
I cannot stress how vital it is to be a safe driver while on the roads for the safety of yourself and the other drivers on the road. A big factor that plays a role in an automobile accident is distracted driving. What is distracted driving? The APB Foundation defines distracted driving as “any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off of your primary task of driving safely, potentially endangering the driver, passenger, and bystander safety.” Activities such as talking, texting, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. According to a recent study from stoptextsstopwrecks.org, “Nine percent of [a specific age group] involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.” This age group was 15-19 year olds; high schoolers.
In drivers ed classes, new drivers are given many tips to become the safest driver they can be. However, many neglect those tips after they are licensed and drive alone, as proven by the facts above. When driving on the road with an instructor, they’ll often have a second set of brakes and a steering wheel in front of them to help you. Although they’re new to the road, driving with an instructor is much easier given how much extra help the driver receives. When someone’s driving alone, it’s just them, a car, and a road full of drivers. The experience can often be nerve-wracking, causing new drivers to panic and drive recklessly, as we see on the roads of Atlanta quite often. But after six months, a driver can have “more than one other passenger in the vehicle (who is not a member of the driver’s immediate family) that is less than 21 years old,” and making them more comfortable driving. Eventually, teen drivers feel like professionals and fail to face a harsh reality: a car crash could involve anyone.
It was cloudy, around 60 degrees outside, and I was feeling excited about another day at The Weber School. I was planning on doing homework that morning in study hall. Afterwards, I was going to go out for Enrichment and get a smoothie with my friend. However, these plans changed. On Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 8:35 AM, I got into my first car accident as a driver. All alone and with no idea what to do, I screamed for my life out of fear that I had hurt the other driver. Within minutes, there were close to a dozen firefighters, EMT’s and police officers at the scene begging for a description of what had happened. The sights and sounds of the crash haunted me, causing sleepless nights to become normal for the next couple of weeks.
You have been warned about distracted driving. I have given tips for how to be a safe driver. Finally, I’d like to leave you with this chilling fact: “in 2015, 2,333 teens (around 6 per day) in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014.” Don’t become a statistic and please, drive safely.