On The Road
By: Cynthia Sias
Ending up on a hospital bed was not what Mariana Gutierrez expected for her Friday night. The plan was actually a late movie with friends and maybe dinner after, but a single look at her phone while driving changed all of her plans.
After crashing with her sister last year, and being sent to the hospital for stitching Gutierrez said, “Teens should be more aware of their surroundings. You never know when something like that can happen to you, but when it does not everyone is as lucky as I was. Getting in a car accident is not just an accident. It is really a realization and eye opening situation in which you are grateful to have kept your life.”
Weekends. A movie, maybe a party or just a night out with friends. Getting home late, sneaking in to the house to not be heard by parents at one or two in the morning. Loud music, fast driving and adrenaline rushes. This is what most weekends consist of for the majority of teenagers. Having fun drinking and making the night memorable. But considering the night memorable because of a vehicular accident is never in a person’s plans. Unfortunately, a person dies every 13 minutes because of a vehicular accident. In the most recent studies, it is shown that motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death among 13-19 year-old males and females in the United States. Why is it that teenage drivers are so prone to death behind a wheel?
Studies have shown that each teen checks their phone while driving at an average of every 10 seconds. Common distractions such as cellphones, friends, or the cute girl running down the street are the most basic reasons why accidents are so recurrent in our teenage drivers. In addition to this, the most serious factors would include alcohol and exceeding speed limits, which obviously lead to even more serious and sometimes fatal outcomes.
The drinking age is set at 16 strategically to avoid scenarios in which teenager lose their lives because of the excess of alcohol. Although the driving age has been disputed many times in government, the age has settled at 16 because it is at this time that teenagers need more independence and begin to explore on their own. In addition to the laws, propaganda, posters and organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) are building efforts in hopes to reduce the amounts of lives lost in vehicular accidents.
Driver Instructor Dani Rangel claims that, “teenagers should be allowed to drive because it shows them responsibility, but there are many factors which should be taken in to mind when a teenager gets behind the wheel.’’
Rangel strongly believes that teens have the potential to have this responsibility that is required to drive a vehicle, but also believes that these jaw dropping accident rates can be prevented.
“The law should be at least a bit stricter when it comes to teenagers behind the wheel. After all they are our future generation risking their lives on the road.”
Besides the law enforcement parents should also be very aware of where it is that their children are traveling to and if they are exposing their lives more to a greater extent by carrying their friends in the back seat or putting themselves at risk through other distractions.
Instructor Rangel also claims that, “involving parents in the daily lives of teenagers is essential. When the parents are aware of what is going on in the driver seat then that environment is instantly safer for the teenager to drive in Parent education as well as cooperation is necessary if we want to make our roads safer.”
The truth however, is that in the end the hands behind the wheel are ours. Senior Manny Medina also shows some concern towards the soaring numbers in vehicular accidents,.
“It is very sad to see how teens with so much potential lose their lives to a fun night and loud music.” Medina also shares the same ideas with Rangel .
“The age limit for driving teenagers is appropriate, and by this age we should all have enough responsibility to handle a vehicle with precaution,” Medina said. “However I do think teens should be more aware of the dangers because in the end it affects us all.”
These dangers sometimes lead to fatalities, but if lucky like junior Gutierrez, they are an awakening.
“I now understand that carelessness and lack of responsibility can cause me my life, and nobody should allow that to happen. Everyone is responsible for the lives of each other on the road.”