Our Editorial: On the right side of things
Getting a license on one’s 16th birthday is a rite of passage. It marks a time of liberation. Parental control seems obsolete, and the ability to control where one goes and does is powerful.
Licenses offer freedom—but they also bring responsibility.
In light of accident rates increasing in our community, the need to minimize reckless driving is even more imperative.
This isn’t criticizing student drivers, but it is merely an honest attempt to minimize collateral damage.
Sixteen-year-old drivers have higher crash rates than any other age group. And the more passengers in the car, the higher the death rates will be. With each increase in miles per hour, the crash risks rises exponentially. According to www.dosomething.com, the act of just talking on the phone drops our reaction time to that of a 70-year-old.
As teenagers, our prefrontal cortex is not yet fully developed. This means crucial decision-making skills and reasoning abilities are not completely within our reach. This case of “teenage brain” accounts for impulsive actions and rash decisions. Reason takes a back seat.
We must think about how our actions have repercussions. We set a precedent for underclassmen who are eagerly waiting for their own licenses. That is why we must own up to our mistakes.
The parking lot after school is a mess. Hundreds of students rush out the doors at the bell’s signal and all try and leave at once. Accidents are bound to happen. So we need to act like the responsible young adults we are.
Driving is a privilege, and driving with reckless abandon may not seem to incite consequences in that moment, but what can happen as a result is unpredictable.
Daytime alertness is also an issue. Our perpetually sleepy states account for decreased motor skills. Teens generally need seven to eight hours of sleep. However, according to The National Sleep Foundation, fewer than half of teens meet that requirement. This makes teenagers highly susceptible to reckless driving.
Additional concerns are erratic Michigan weather and constant construction. Although the climate is relatively calm in the fall, when winter approaches, the prospect of danger only escalates. Parking becomes more difficult, and the state of the lot is even more chaotic. Construction takes up much of the road and makes a routine trip a stressful endeavor.
We never think it will happen to us. We think that going 10 mph over the speed limit will cause no harm or answering the phone won’t be a big deal.
Until the day the unimaginable becomes reality.
The day we find ourselves in the middle of this inconceivable nightmare will be the time that changes us forever. Save yourself and others from these catastrophic experiences and be aware of what’s happening behind the wheel. Be safe. Minimize distractions. It’s easier said than done, but these precautions are what can determine life and death.
Our lives are precious and worth more than a missed call or unanswered text.