Driving is one of the many milestones that indicate a teenager is becoming an adult, ready to take charge of one’s own life. But it is a responsibility that isn’t taken seriously. Teenagers (16-19) are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than any other driver, age 20 or older, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. There have already been a few driving accidents this year. In February, four teenagers were injured after the driver lost control on the wet pavement. In March, a teenager was taken by air ambulance to University Hospital of Columbia after pulling out of a parking lot into the path of an oncoming car. Also in March, a teenager crashed into a tree while driving intoxicated. All of these accidents could have been avoided if the drivers had been more careful. Here are some tips for teens to stay safe on the road.
Buckle up. Teens are told by parents, driving instructors, and even TV ads to buckle up, but many still don’t do it. When there is an accident, if anyone in the vehicle isn’t buckled up, they will be injured far more severely than if they had been. In a head on collision, the car moves back but the passengers are still moving forward. A seat belt will keep them in place, but without it, they could easily fly through the windshield, enduing up with severe head injuries or even dying. Some teens will not wear a seat belt because it can be uncomfortable. But think about it, it’s better to be uncomfortable and survive an accident, than to be comfortable and possibly die.
Another safety tip is to keep aware of surroundings. This involves traffic signs, animals or people on the side of the road, and also weather. According to an online article, 21% of car accidents happen due to a lack of scanning to detect and react to hazards. Many times, this is because the driver is distracted by a cell phone, friend, or a song playing too loudly over the radio. Other times, the teen simply has a false feeling of invincibility and doesnt take steps to avoid an accident. In February, a Helias student was driving at night while it was snowing and sleeting on the road. She didn’t slow down and when she hit a patch of ice, her car went into a spin and went off the road. Thankfully, there was lots of snow on the side of the road, so there was minimal damage to the car and the student suffered no injuries. “I was lucky. If there hadn’t been enough snow to stop my car, I would’ve hit a cow fence amd who knows what else could’ve happened,” said the anonymous student. If the student had taken the weather into consideration and slowed down, she could’ve avoided the accident.
One last tip, don’t drink and drive. Granted, teens are too young to even drink, but some still do. And to make matters worse, the get behind the wheel of a car. In 2010, 22% of drivers, 15 to 20 years of age, involved in car crashes were drinking alcohol, according to a CDC article. This could be easily avoided. The number one way, don’t drink. It’s illegal anyway. Another way is to have someone else drive, someone who hasn’t been drinking, even if that means calling a parent. That may seem scary, and a “grounding” is bound to follow, but that outweighs the other possibility, and that’s either losing one’s license or even one’s life.
There are other ways to remain safe on the road and all are pretty easy to follow. But, no matter how safe a teen may drive, there is still the chance of an accident. A driver can only control his or her own driving, and not everyone drives safely. But if teens start driving safe, that’s one step to safer roads.
The Crusader Raid, Vol. 5, Num. 4
The School’s out for Summer Issue