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Driving the message home to teenage drivers

By Caitlin Johnson

teenbeat@postbulletin.com

Every weekday after 3:03 p.m., drivers on the road take their lives into their hands. What is it that happens in the afternoons that makes even the most skillful driver tremble with fear and opt to stay home for awhile? School gets out!

Judging from the overwhelming sense of danger that often accompanies high school drivers, I would hazard a guess that many teenagers slept through driver’s education. Let me reiterate some of the main points I picked up in that class in hopes that clueless teenage drivers are reading:

  • When it’s not your turn, don’t go.
  • Signal!
  • Volume control was designed and fitted to the car’s sound system for a reason. If the entire parking lot can hear what your favorite song is, it’s too loud.
  • Be courteous. Cutting someone off is not a good way to make a friend.
  • Do not speed. If you find yourself with the urge to race the car next to you, recall all of the recent accidents near the high schools and think better of it.
  • Just use common sense.

If we teenage drivers don’t shape up, we’ll be on our way to tougher laws. Perhaps the age for getting a driver’s license will be raised or more restrictions will be put in place. In 30 states already, "graduated driver’s licensing" programs have started. According to the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, "the goal of these programs is to give teens more driving experience before they are allowed an unrestricted license."
A new driver first drives supervised, then may drive alone but with restrictions, and finally reaches the "unrestricted stage, which can be as early as age 16 or as late as 18."

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So it’s not unheard of. I suspect that if this idea of restricted licenses were introduced to a room full of 15-year-olds, it would be met with a resounding "NOOOO!" Teenage drivers, don’t ruin it for the rest of us. I like having my driver’s license and being able to take myself places.

Instead of striking fear into the hearts of our parents and other adult drivers when they hear the words "teenage" and "drivers" strung together in the same sentence, let’s make an effort to improve our reputation as drivers by being more cautious on the roads. Vehicles are powerful machines, and they require disciplined operators. Let’s take the rules of the road to heart and be better drivers.

Caitlin Johnson is a junior at Century High School. To respond to an opinion column, send an e-mail to teenbeat@postbulletin.com.

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