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Privilege or Responsibility? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   A sixteenth birthday is a big milestone in a teenager's life. It gives you thefirst real taste of freedom: a license, as long as you're home by curfew. Icouldn't wait to experience that freedom, but I didn't realize just how much of aresponsibility it was. A car is nothing more than a giant metal machine that canbe deadly if not used properly.

Arriving home from the DMV, license inhand, I was allowed to take the car for my first drive with no parentalsupervision. Whizzing around corners, running yellow lights, I was enjoying thefreedom of the open road. I took my freedom to my friend's house so that shecould see me behind the wheel and we drooled over our new freedom, dreaming oflate-night parties, wishing for the weekend.

The first few weeks I drovepretty carefully, but not really understanding how careful I needed to be. Theother cars would make up for my errors. If I ran a yellow light, they would bewatching, and avoid me. If I made a right-on-red and there was a car coming, Isaw no reason why it wouldn't slow down and make room for me. Overall I didn'tsee a reason to be alert every second.

Yellow light, yellow light ... Ican make it, I can do it. Darn, it's red. Oh well, I almost made it, no copsaround here. I was late for school that Tuesday, and every light counted. I hadjust barely gotten through the last one when I pulled up to the next light towait for my green arrow. Slowly turning the wheel, I began to go. There were nocars, so what harm was there in going a second or two early? As I startedaccelerating into the turn, a car running the yellow light came crashing into me,sending me into a light pole and pedestrians waiting for the cross signal. Ijumped out of my badly damaged car without considering my injuries. I had to seeif the other driver was all right. The man I hit was in his late seventies, andblood was pouring from his nose, mouth and other parts of hishead.

"I'm so sorry," was all I could say.

I was verylucky that day considering everything. My wrist had minor sprains because of aninadequate airbag, but nothing serious. The car I hit had no passengers, and thedriver was released from the hospital the next day. Thankfully the pedestrianswere across the street when I came barreling toward the crosswalk. From thishorrible situation, nothing horrible happened.

Driving is really more of aresponsibility than a privilege. As a driver of a giant metal hulk on wheels, youare responsible for every other person on the road. Your actions directly affecteveryone, and you have to be sure to pay attention at all times.

I'llnever forget the image of the other car crashing full speed into mine, while allI could think of were the words of my driver ed teacher: "It's better to befive minutes late in this world than 50 years early into the next." I amthankful every day that no one was hurt because of my selfishness.




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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Mark said...
Sept. 14, 2014 at 9:06 am
Thanks for writing this--I'm using it to start a conversation about safe driving in my physics class.  Great use of physics ideas like acceleration!
 
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