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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Teen driver preparation is woefully lax

One of the most dangerous and yet most frequent routines that we face on a daily, if not hourly, basis is driving. Even when one is paying full attention and has zero distractions, driving is extremely dangerous, simply due to the fact that there’s a ton of factors happening all at once.

It’s even more dangerous for young people who are learning to drive. When a kid is growing up, the anxiety of trying to fit in and impress people can lead one to driving too fast. Coupled with the pressure to respond to a text or pose for a selfie, these habits can prove dangerous.

But don’t fear, there is hope!

The Tucson Police Foundation has started a program called START, or Safe Teen Accident Reduction Training. With a few necessary requirements such as being age 16-19 with a driver’s license and having valid insurance, the program is free and helps young kids by getting behind the wheel with a Tucson Police Department driving instructor.

Participants learn useful tactics such as off-road recovery, evasive steering and skid recovery. START is an incalculably valuable program and should be mandatory for all new license applications.

According to Auto Safety, the leading cause of U.S. teen deaths is texting while driving. There are more than 3,000 teen deaths each year due to texting while driving and more than 50 percent of teens admit that they text and drive.

This all boils down to creating great driving habits and eschewing the bad ones. With a bit of planning, all drivers can develop safe routines. Texting while driving isn’t the only statistic that shows teens being unsafe drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways—the room between them and the car in front—which speaks to the lack of rigor involved in attaining and maintaining a driver’s license.

Seat belt use is also a prevalent issue amongst adolescent drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 only 55 percent of high school students reported that they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

That could be an issue of trying to look cool in front of your friends, which we all want in some form or another. It could also just be the invincible mentality that a young person has, until they realize they’re not immortal.

Driving with a TPD driving instructor will help young drivers in so many ways. They’ll get firsthand knowledge of what it means to be a safe driver. They’ll learn that a text can wait, or if they need to, they can park in a safe and secure area and then check their phone.

There are plenty of reckless drivers out there who are adults, so this isn’t to say that young teenagers are the only careless disasters on the road. However, learning in advance all the possible dangers of driving—outside the automated permit test or a lecture hall—one will learn good driving habits, which will lead to a future generation of drivers that will make driving a much safer experience.

This program, or a program similar to START, should be mandatory on some level so every child has the opportunity to learn just how dangerous driving is—even when everything goes smoothly—and how a few simple safe driving habits can save their life, which can end on the road in a fraction of a second.

Follow Daniel Geffre on Twitter.

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