No 15-year-old wants to hear about car accidents first thing in the morning, but there I sat, listening to my elderly driver’s ed teacher drone on about fatal incidents involving telephone poles and semi-trucks at 10 in the morning. By the time he started the precautionary safety film, the entire class’s eyelids were beginning to shut. But half-way through the film, after seeing traumatic images and violent collisions, none of us wanted to get behind the wheel anymore; just learning about such horrible accidents scarred us. No one wanted to hear about such gruesome incidents, much less experience them.
But neither did the mom of a local high school student killed in a reckless accident. On a cold winter morning, she received news that her son was driving the speed limit as he made his way to school, but the girl behind him was not. A fellow student in his grade was driving at 116 miles per hour (nearly double the limit) and hit him. What happened next was comparable to the events seen in the driver’s ed film and was the result of reckless driving.
Many think that the worst consequence to speeding is a hefty ticket, but they are terribly mistaken. Speeding is deadly and affects more people than just the irresponsible driver. It is just as dangerous as driving under the influence, even though many refuse to recognize that. The girl involved going 51 miles over the speed limit barely had any control of her vehicle, similar to those who drive inebriated. If speeding was as harmless as society makes it seem, then there wouldn’t be hefty tickets and a mother would have been spared the worst news of her life.
Another prevalent form of reckless driving among teens is texting and driving. While hearing the buzz of a new notification is tempting, it can have consequences. Whether you’re replacing your neighbor’s mailbox or facing criminal charges, one Snap isn’t worth it. While speeding was the main factor of the previous accident, mentions of texting and driving have emerged.
As teens grow more comfortable with driving, they begin to grow more comfortable with phone usage. At first, it’s a text here and a song-change there. Then, as they gain more trust in themselves, it’s full-blown conversations and Instagram scrolling. At any age or level of experience, using your phone while driving is never safe. An 18 year-old with a couple years of driving under her belt thought she could handle texting and driving just like she thought she could handle driving double the speed limit. You cannot focus on safe driving if you aren’t focused on driving to begin with.
Almost every state has cracked down on texting and driving, nearly half of them banning phone usage altogether. It is clearly outlawed for a reason—if it was a safe driving practice there would not be so many laws against it. Many people seem to ignore laws (that are set in place for their own safety) purely out of spite, harming themselves and others in the process. It is such a painfully childish way to treat themselves and others.
Though these accidents are horrible and gut-wrenching, they can easily be prevented. The most obvious and effective solution is simply not partaking in reckless behavior and driving safely. If you are not speeding, it’s unlikely that you’ll hit a car that’s going the speed limit. And if you are not texting or intoxicated while driving, there is a good chance you’re in control of your vehicle.
I find it ridiculous that anyone would openly reject these suggestions, as they’re basic laws and considerate to others. Going 5 over the speed limit instead of 51 will not make you late to school, ignoring that notification will not kill you and letting a sober friend drive won’t make your night any less fun. You are just inconsiderate and reckless.
And those who don’t participate in reckless driving are still accountable, as well. On the morning of the accident involving the teens, my classmate mentioned the fact that he had often seen the girl speeding and driving recklessly, phone in hand. While the accident is clearly not his fault, if he had thought to mention it sooner, the boy’s life would have been spared.
We can all prevent reckless driving in many ways. If you see a friend texting and driving, simply tell them to knock it off. If you find yourself pressing the gas more than you should, ease off. Parties get out of control—that’s a given—so just find, or be, a sober driver. You shouldn’t justify negligent driving because it’s not as dangerous as the next harmful practice, and you shouldn’t put others in danger because you don’t feel like following laws that were set in place for a reason. Reckless driving harms more than just the driver and needs to come to and end, beginning with the youth.
Featured Image via Peter Fazekas/Pexels