The Reckless Streak This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     In October a few years ago, my sister and her friend were in a car accident. They were driving to a movie in the rain after a football game when a Crown Victoria T-boned their Saturn on the passenger side. Although no alcohol was involved and both girls were wearing seat belts, my sister’s friend did not survive. Her seat belt was ripped off by the impact, and she was ejected from the rolling car. If a crash can be fatal to a person wearing a seat belt, think about what can happen if you aren’t wearing one. Not a pleasant thought.

If seat belts save lives, why doesn’t everyone wear them? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Of the 31,910 vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2001, 60 percent were not wearing a safety belt. Safety belts saved 13,274 lives in 2001, and if all vehicle occupants over age four had been wearing safety belts, 7,334 more lives could have been saved ... 6,400 serious injuries could be prevented annually.” This proves that there is a streak of recklessness in American drivers, and what age group is most likely to be reckless? The answer is teens.

Teens are daredevils. We think we’re invincible and don’t need to be safe. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Company’s report, “National Teen Driving Statistics,” explains, “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Sixteen-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.” In addition, two-thirds of teens killed in auto accidents in 2006 were not wearing seat belts.

In fact, I know from experience that many teens don’t wear seat belts. I’ve heard the stories of late-night driving with passengers doing the most idiotic things - for example, sticking half their body out the window at 70 mph. If that speeding car had crashed, what do you think would have happened? An accident at 35 mph usually results in the driver receiving serious face and knee injuries; another very common injury is a broken wrist. Crashes at 35 mph or more also commonly cause the driver to be ejected through the windshield, which can result in loss of limbs and paralysis, if the driver even survives. Sometimes a person is ejected and crushed by the car. With all this evidence of gruesome deaths, how can anyone not wear a seat belt?

I regret having this reckless streak that comes from being a teen. For I, too, do not always wear my seat belt. More surprisingly, I usually neglect one when I’m in the car with a teen driver. I’ve been in the car with a 16-year-old driver going 70 mph in the winter not wearing a seat belt. I’ve sat on my boyfriend’s lap in a moving vehicle for lack of room. I’ve ridden with a newly licensed sophomore, careening around corners over icy patches.

No one can be reminded too often to be careful, and I know I have to remind myself, too. What I can’t believe is that even with the death of my sister’s friend (which sits in a little black corner of my mind), I am still enough of an idiot to gamble with my own life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 8 at 6:05 pm
i love this !
JackMcL. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Really cool how you mixed story telling with self-reflection. Like this a lot!
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