Speeding away from school, blasting music, and ‘feeling the wind in your hair’, are classic experiences for the average American teenager. However, an increase in student drivers’ recklessness questions these norms that have been passed down decade after decade.

An analysis from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reported that “In the United States, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over.”

Of course, in mandated driver’s education classes, young drivers are told over and over (and over) again that “driving a car is like owning a loaded gun.” However, does instilling a fear to drive really decrease the likelihood of collision? Or should this be replaced with more necessary information?

“Many students don’t even know what to do if they get in a crash or how to use their own insurance,” fellow Liberty senior Faith Cribbs said.

Essential skills are then not learnt nor focused on, which compromises safety when driving. In my personal experience, I feel as if I leave every day with a new “driving story” of being cut off, not let into traffic, or “almost” crashing with another.

“I was in the student lot with my blinker on to indicate I would turn into a space and someone else took it right in front of me,” Cribbs said.

The lack of courtesy between student drivers is common. At a high school level, this is especially disturbing. The people of tomorrow’s world are already so inherently selfish that they will not wait for just one car in front of them, though, this blame may be misplaced.

“Ageism makes many assert that student drivers are the problem, but in my experience, the parents of students are more aggressive and think their time is more important,” Cribbs argued.

I always correlated the aggressive driving I witnessed to student drivers, not considering the impact a school environment can have. Pressure to both students and parents can cause overall increases in poor driving and a lack of courtesy.

“The main issue for student drivers is that we’re inexperienced. If you take a look at the Spruce Street walls you can see marks where we’ve all hit it once or twice,” Cribbs said.

While it is undeniable that students tend to show off in the student car park by revving their engines or honking their horns, their reason for doing so may not be as foreign as we are led to believe.

Cribbs was asked if she considered herself a courteous driver. “In the mornings, especially if I see someone trying to get in line, I usually just pull forward,” she said.

Despite complaining about other drivers cutting me off or not leaving me enough space, I do too find myself hypocritically performing the same behavior. If I rant about having to do certain maneuvers and then force others to do the same, am I really any better?

It must then be understood that we all have places to be and they are all individually important to us. So, rather than edging forward in line and saving all of five seconds, instead consider letting in a driver or two and accentuating your intrinsic values and morals by practicing courtesy on the road.

– by: Ria Sanghera

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