Driving a vehicle is a necessity in today’s world. Not only does it provide a method of quick, private transportation, but it also represents status and independence for personal control. Hence, the main reason why teenagers are so eager to drive is becauses it gives them a sense of freedom from their parents and allows them a chance to feel like an adult. As teenagers are legally allowed to drive at the age of 18, most will attempt to jump into the driver’s seat and hit the road without much precaution.
Despite the popularity of driving, the dangers are lethal without proper care and attention. Traffic accidents are common, occurring nearly 6 million times in the US alone, along with 37,000 of those crashes resulting in deaths, according to the Wandering RV. There are several factors that contribute to these fatal accidents, including distractions, intoxication, and speeding. So, how do teenagers stay safe while driving?
One of the most important parts of driving is awareness, especially attention to areas that cannot be seen by a driver through rear view or side mirrors. These invisible areas are known as the “blind spots‘’ of a vehicle, which are extremely dangerous, as they prevent the driver from seeing people or other vehicles. Therefore, when an accident occurs, this impacts both the driver, who was unaware of the blind area and the driver who drove in the spot of blindness. Most accidents from blind spots occur when merging into highways, especially when roads are congested. It can be impossible to identify anything behind a vehicle, causing aggressive maneuvers that may end up in a devastating crash. Similarly, lane-changing accidents are another common cause from blind spot crashes, which can be usually prevented by checking side mirrors and turning on signals.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 840,000 accidents are caused due to blind spots. Usually, the bigger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot, as the height of the vehicle prevents the driver from seeing the full length of the road. Therefore, most accidents include trucks, as the sheer size of the vehicle creates a “No Zone”, an area that smaller cars should not be in while driving alongside a larger vehicle.
Jake Kim, a driving student at Crescenta Valley High School, explained, in an interview, about his driving thoughts and worries. He stated, “Driving is fun, it gives me the freedom to go where I want and lets me go around town much easier. But, I am still scared of getting into a car crash, so I try to stay as attentive as possible…” Despite his fears, Jake plans to continuously drive throughout his life, and abide by traffic regulations and safety precautions.
With the knowledge of the scary possibilities during driving, it is important to learn and understand the risk not to take driving for granted. Staying alert at all times and following traffic rules will prevent most unnecessary accidents, and practicing driving in many areas can also help one adapt to dangerous situations. Making smart and safe decisions will create a safer area for all drivers of the world.
Kevin Hwang, Grade 12
Crescenta Valley High School