The Wrong Side of the Road – Teenage Drivers

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In recent years, more than 5,900 teenagers died in the United States from motor vehicle crash injuries. Such injuries are by far the leading public health problem for young people 13-19 years old Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [IIHS], 2004. Drivers are not the only ones at risk.

Teenagers who are passengers in others vehicles make up a startling 87% of the fatality statistic.Lack of driving experience, disregard for traffic laws, and quick access to full driving privileges contribute to teen death. To reduce teen driving fatalities, successful completion of driver education classes provided by public and private schools should be mandatory for all teenagers prior to receiving their driving permit.Most teens start learning to drive by the time they are 15 years old.

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were “191.3 million licensed drivers in the United States in 2001. Young drivers, between 15 and 20 years old, accounted for 6.6 percent 12.

6 million of the total” 2002. Teenagers are more likely to be involved in fatal traffic accidents strictly from lack of experience.Likewise, teens do not acknowledge the possibility that their lack of driving experience can cost them their lives. Teenagers have a natural tendency to rebel against the rules set forth by adults.

Teens may have the skills to be safe drivers, but their failure to correlate unsafe driving situations with danger, along with their disregard for traffic laws ultimately places them in harms way.Obeying the traffic laws appear to be difficult for most teenagers. “Beginner drivers are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as speeding, passing inappropriately, tailgating, and driving without using safety belts. At the same time, they are the least able to cope with hazardous situations that arise unexpectedly” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1999, p.

18. Again, it is apparent the blatant disregard of traffic laws directly correlates to teen deaths in vehicle crashes.Teens underestimate how speeding actually impedes their reaction time when placed in precarious driving situations. Contributing factors such as wet roads or uneven pavement necessitates that drivers slow down.

Unfortunately, speeding causes them to overcompensate resulting in many one-vehicle accidents resulting in death. Learning to understand the reasons why one should obey traffic laws begins at home through observation of adults. However, academic settings such as driver’s education classes are the optimum place for these lessons because their structure provides in-depth training. Driving gives teens a sense of freedom.

They are in charge once their driving permit is in hand and the key is in the ignition. However, freedom comes at a cost and too much to soon can be fatal. For example, as reported in an article by IIHS, “The horrific crash that took Tiffany Accardi’s life and the lives of four others prompted Florida legislators to pass a law that phases in driving privileges for teenagers.” 1999, p.

16.This recent mandate requires teens to pass a written test, and to complete traffic law and substance abuse education courses. This common sense approach coupled with driver education in the classroom will save lives. Our teens deserve the privilege of driving only after they successfully complete these classes and examinations.

It is understandable that teens lack experience, disregard traffic laws, and do not like driver education. Our society sends teens mixed messages. We tell them they are responsible enough to operate a motor vehicle at the very young age of 15, yet they are not responsible enough to have a voice in the decision making process. It is an interesting contradiction teens as young as 15 are allowed to operate motor vehicles, yet they cannot vote to change the laws that affect their own driving privileges.

Educating teens on defensive driving techniques at home and in school is the key to ensuring their safety. How does society face the deaths of our teens such as Tiffany Accardi? We teach our teens that driving is a privilege that is earned before they, like Tiffany end up on the wrong side of the road.

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The Wrong Side of the Road – Teenage Drivers. (2018, Jun 10). Retrieved from

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