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by Megan Gallagher
While getting a driver’s license is an exciting rite of passage for most teens, it also comes with the heavy responsibility of driving safely.
High school is the time that many teens start to get their permits and licenses, which means that lots of kids are out and on the roads. Unfortunately, lots of teen drivers are distracted and consequently unsafe while driving which leads to quite a few scary statistics.
33% of all teen deaths occur due to a motor vehicle accident, and the risk of death of a 16 or 17 year old increases with each additional passenger in the car.
“I think we have lots of distracted drivers around,” said Dr. Barry Younghans, a principal at GHS.
Research from dosomething.org also shows that more than 50% of teen drivers talk on the cell phone while driving. When drivers talk on the cell phone it slows down their reaction time to that of a 70 year old. And this is just talking, not looking at your phone for the best song in your finals week playlist.
“If you add in weather and the fact that our kids are inexperienced drivers, you always worry about safety,” Younghans said.
There have been a few recent news stories about horrible, life changing accidents that have even happened close to Goshen: distracted drivers not seeing school busses, icy crashes closing US 20, and fender benders just blocks away from GHS! These incidents continue to remind us how important safe driving is.
“Remember that life changes in an instant,” said Younghans. “That young lady that hit and killed those three kids at their bus stop will have to live with that forever. She changed that family forever, and she will likely be a convicted felon all because she lost track of what she was doing.”
Even though something that serious hasn’t happened in Goshen, there are still a lot of people practicing unsafe driving.
Officer Johnson, the resource officer at GHS, shared that he sees a lot of students on their cell phones in the parking lot at GHS.
Officer Johnson also pointed out some other unsafe patterns that he sees in student drivers at GHS.
“Coming out between the rows of cars, and a lot of them won’t look to the left. They’ll look the way they want to turn,” Johnson said. “And there’s been numerous times that I’ve seen students almost hit other cars because they’re just not paying attention.”
As we get into the winter months, practicing safe driving is even more crucial with icy roads and other bad driving conditions. Many students don’t adjust the way that they drive when the weather gets bad, but what they don’t realize is that it takes longer to get to places when it’s icy.
“Slow down and be late,” said Johnson. “I’d rather see students late everyday to school then have them injured in an accident or worse.”
When it comes to safe driving, one thing is clear: be fully engaged in what you are doing at the time. Whether this means putting your phone away or leaving early due to icy conditions, it can mean the difference between life and death.