When most young people hop into the driver’s seat for the first time, they usually don’t think of the consequences of their every action. I certainly didn’t. Although you learn about accidents in drivers ed, you think, That can never happen to me. Well, it can. You are responsible for your actions, and one bad turn can cost you your life.
Not long ago, I came home late from a friend’s house very tired. I heard a noise as I got into bed and soon I heard sirens. I looked out and saw fire trucks and police cars speeding past our house. My initial thought was that someone’s house was on fire and I hoped everyone was okay.
My mom went out to see what all the commotion was about and when she returned, she told me there had been a serious accident down the street. A teenage girl was driving a convertible with a number of friends. I figured it must be bad, but when I got there things were worse than I expected. Caution tape was already fluttering around the scene but I could see that the convertible was totaled and pushed into the side of a garage. Two cars that had been parked in the driveway were also totaled.
Neighbors, paramedics, firemen and police filled the streets. A witness told me the driver had raced through the neighborhood, lost control, run through a cable box and a tree, and ended up smashing into the corner of the garage. The teens were thrown from the car and had been taken to the hospital. The driver was 16.
In Delaware, high-school students take a semester course that requires classroom hours, passing a test, and a minimum of 14 trips on the road with an instructor, seven driving and seven observing. After that, they can get their learner’s permit. For the first six months, 15-year-olds must drive with a licensed driver over the age of 25 in the front seat. Then, you are allowed to drive by yourself until 10 p.m. After another year, you are a full-fledged, licensed driver.
Despite all this, the driving age is still too young. Teens do not have enough experience by the time they hit the road on their own and the wreckage I saw is proof. Not everyone takes driving seriously and one careless move could mean your life - or someone else’s. If the driving age were raised to 17 or 18, teens might drive more maturely. Also, if the amount of driving time with an adult were extended to a year, it would give drivers more experience before going solo.
So next time you get into the driver’s seat, remember to think about every move you make, and drive smart.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.