Remembering the rules of the road

Stephanie Masterman, Troy InVoice Reporter

Auburn High School students flee the PAC parking lot after the final bell rings.
Auburn High School students flee the PAC parking lot after the final bell rings.

Over the last decade more than 68,000 teens have died in a car crash, 10,000 more than the total number of Americans who died during the Vietnam War (www.safeteendriving.org). Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths in America. Teenage drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident because they lack driving experience. Within the first year of driving, teen drivers are ten times more likely to get into a car wreck than drivers of any other age. Though teen drivers may not be as adjusted to the roads as adult drivers, teens are not to blame for all risky behavior taking place on the road.

Adult drivers are also at fault for reckless driving. In a survey taken by Auburn High School students, 18 out of 40 students said that they see adults committing risky behavior more often than teens, “Oh, I’ve seen a lot of adults screw up. Almost had a couple put me in wrecks,” said junior Dylan Williams. Adults may be the ones laying down the law on the dangers of driving, but they do not always set the best example.

In most cases, teenage drivers develop their driving habits based off of what they observed from their parent’s driving. Children observe adult driving for most of their lives before they begin driving on their own. Both good and bad driving patterns are exposed to children beginning at a very young age. Unfortunately, one of the worst habits a child could pick up is driving while intoxicated. www.Drugfree.org says that teens whose parents drink are more likely to drive under the influence (DUI) when they are adults compared to children with non-drinking parents.

Of course not all driving patterns are inherited from parents, but whether they are natural or learned, it is important to understand how to be safe on the road. According to the AHS student body, the top four worst driving habits are texting, talking on the phone, speeding, and multi tasking. Many students agree that texting or talking on the phone while driving can wait and that everyone should put their phones away while behind the wheel. Texting and driving makes a crash 23 times more likely says textinganddrivingsafety.com.

Even though phones, speeding, and multi tasking can put drivers in danger, students also agree that reckless driving is very common among teen drivers. “When I go out driving in Black Diamond and I see a bunch of mud on the side of the road, I just whip it into the mud. Yeah, I’m the reason for the tread marks in the grass,” Williams admitted. Student drivers at Auburn High have anonymously admitted to four wheeling on the side of the road, cutting people off when switching lanes, texting, speeding when no one is around, running stop signs, dancing, not wearing seat belts, not slowing down for speed bumps, drifting, racing, speeding through yellow lights, turning headlights off while driving at night, speeding around sharp corners, and messing with the radio all while behind the wheel, and sometimes with passengers too. This is not good news considering over 5,000 teenagers find themselves in car accidents each year.

For the sake of living to the next day and not killing or injuring someone in a car accident today, drive safe on the roads. Speeding is inevitable but it can be prevented. A lot of speeding happens because some drivers choose to drive below the speed limit. “Cops give us the grace of driving five mph over the speed limit so I think we should take advantage of it,” said senior Adrian Smith. However, Officer Dotson of the Auburn Police Department said, “Speeding is an infraction and it’s “Officer Discretion” if the patrol officer or deputy wants to issue a citation for one mile over or give the speeder a break.” Officer Dotson also added that, “State Patrol and traffic officers normally do not give five miles over, they write anything over the speed limit.” Whether or not drivers feel comfortable speeding, it is best to just drive the correct speed limit so that you can keep your head in the clear and so that you do not give other drivers a reason to speed and pass you. Drive in the correct lane (passing lane on the left, slow lane on the right, for those who may have forgotten); when merging on to the freeway get up to speed; use your blinker while switching lanes and while turning; know where you are going before you start going; refrain from cutting other cars off; and find a designated driver for those daring drives home on Friday and Saturday nights. And remember, road rage is only a reaction to terrible driving habits that can easily be avoided if everyone can follow the simple rules of the road.