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Driving Deaths This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   In case you are unfamiliar with it, here is an introduction to today's driver's ed. program, brought to you by the same people who invented the Titanic's lifeboat layout - old solutions for new problems. Its results are visible every day, on any road. You can see them in the guy who turns left from the right lane and the woman who blows through a stop sign while talking on a cell phone. These people are products of a driver's ed. program which is outdated, ineffective and needs improvement. Many people say younger drivers are to blame, but this is only because of inadequate preparation for the road.

Today, human error accounts for almost all traffic accidents, excluding mechanical malfunctions. The weather doesn't count, because drivers should be trained to handle wet roads and foggy conditions. Road rage causes accidents, but can be avoided with defensive driving techniques. Drunk driving is a big human error which no training can prevent and is next to impossible for another driver to combat. Today's cars have many high-tech safety systems, however, cars are increasingly tailored to under-skilled drivers who inevitably have an accident.

Previous efforts to produce better drivers have resulted in graduated licensing programs, which many states have adopted. This requires people first to obtain a learner's permit, then after six months, a Junior Operator's License, then after another six months, a full license. Before getting a full license, a person cannot have anyone under 18 in the car unless an over-21 adult is in the passenger seat and driving is not allowed between midnight and 5 a.m. This idea is good in theory but somewhat impractical in reality. Nobody ever questions the responsibility level of the adult in the car, or if this program really improves driving skills and lowers the death rate. During the year before a person obtains a full license, they are driving with little experience.

A few changes should be made to the driver's ed. requirements so that new drivers would be safer. Currently on the written test, 14 correct answers (out of 20 multiple choice questions) is a passing grade. It would not be unreasonable to require 18 out of 20 or 27 correct out of 30. Currently, only 54 total hours is deemed necessary, with 30 of these hours completed in the classroom. Some countries require triple or even quadruple that, with a higher percentage of in-car hours, and make students spend several hundred to two thousand dollars. This is not exactly what should be done, but a total of 100 hours with 55 in the driver's seat would work fine. The training should include rainy and night driving, as well as some advanced techniques (such as defensive driving). In short, it should go beyond distinguishing the accelerator from the brake. It might cost one or two hundred dollars, which is not cheap but probably realistic.

With this program, the average new driver would be much safer and less likely to have an accident. The old driver's ed. program is out of date. Human error will never be eliminated from driving, but it can be reduced, making you less likely to lose a friend. ?


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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