Students illustrate careless driving by texting while driving, overloading passengers and blasting music. These habits are some of the leading causes of car accidents according to SADD studies. Students share their views on new student drivers, reflect upon past accidents

by Carly Tovell

Zipping down the long one-way, car-lined street in a mad dash to make it to first period on time, driving hazards seem to be the last thing on students’ minds. Students cruise around at lunch with no seat belts, texting through the lots, and music playing so loud it’s heard all the way from the other side of the street. A means for transportation has turned into a social excursion, with little to no acknowledgment of the responsibilities that come along with a license.

Senior Austin Horner suggests that students create dangers when they are new to the streets of UA. By dismissing the dangers on the road with distractions, new drivers set themselves and other drivers up for fatal situations.

“I think that distractions can be more difficult for students who are new on the roads. Experience and good judgement really helps drivers deal with everyday distractions, like passengers and music,” Horner said.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Center for Statistics Analysis in 2008 proved that teen drivers are the most dangerous to the roads.

Statistics revealed “hand-held cellphone use was highest among 16- to 24-year-olds”, as well as the fact that 55 percent of car passengers ages 16 to 20 who were killed in crashes were not wearing seatbelts.

Although students may believe that distractions are manageable and irrelevant to their own lives, a study by Students Against Destructive Decisions conducted in 2010-2011 proves that opinion wrong. The study included a survey of 2,294 teenagers in 11th and 12th grades; students were selected from 28 high schools across the country in January 2011.

The studies showed that the majority of teens’ distractions occurred through technology. With the SADD studies results in support of the undermined distractions, it is clear that students are careless about the hazards caused by other influences on the road.

Studies on student driving by SADD concluded that in 2011 alone, 73 percent of students admitted to changing songs on their iPod or MP3 player while driving, and 67 percent said they talked on a cell phone.

Horner supports the statistics with his own view on driving distractions.

“I would definitely say that texting, even though illegal, is still a huge issue, as well as the radio and passengers that they carry along in their cars,” he said.

Technology proves to be a large factor for teen driving hazards, but there seem to be other concerns, with passengers serving as distractions.

Statistics from the Insurence Institiute of Highway Safery show that “the rate of fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled in 2001 was highest at ages 16-17 for male drivers and at age 16 for female drivers.”

With the immense amount of distractions on the road today, new drivers find it difficult to put the distractions aside when getting behind the wheel.

Temorary licensed driver, sophomore Will Marable reflects on the stuggles new drivers have with distractions.

“It’s hard to keep your focus when you are a new driver because you don’t know what you are doing as well as drivers who have more experience,” he said.

For students who have experienced an accident, the view of drivers’ responsibilities becomes altered. After her first accident occurring a year after receiving her license, junior Taylor Grow shared how she now views driving.

“I think everyone should be thinking about safety because your life is on the line every time you get in the car,” she said. “Students often forget that driving is a right of passage and is a privilege that is very easily taken away if you don’t abide by the rules.”

Horner agrees with Grow’s view on new drivers, and reflects upon an incident that occurred while he was a new driver.

Only a few months after getting his license, his car slid off an ice-covered road. Horner admits to a lack of experience behind the wheel catalyzing his accident.

“I know that there were influences involved in my accident and they are mainly that I was too confident and an adolescent driver,” Horner said.

Students who have come across issues while driving have learned from their past experiences to better their skills. Despite the overwhelming sudden shock that happens after getting in a car accident, students manage to make the best of the situation.

For example, after hydroplaning into another car on a rainy day after school, senior Courtney Turnbull now approaches driving more carefully.

“It makes me really conscious about how I stop now because my tires are really bad, I keep stopping back really far,” she said.

Supporting Turnbull’s change of mind, due to her past car crash, Grow believes it is a danger to fill one’s car with distractions while driving.

“You don’t just put everyone else in your car’s life in danger, but everyone else on the road,” she said

by Carly Tovell