Student to Student
While most parents know the No. 1 killer of teens is car crashes, the majority don’t understand the main causes of these crashes. Most parents delay safe driving conversations with their teens until he or she already has his or her license. At this point it is too late.
Talk to your young drivers. The "not my kid syndrome" is killing people.
When I turned 15 my parents started drilling me with driving questions and tips every time we got in the car. As much as the constant barrage of "How do you think that could have been prevented? What should we have done? What if," questions annoyed me and any other poor soul that happened to be in the car, about a week ago this constant stream of questions saved my life and my sister’s.
Teen drivers are 4 times more likely than drivers 20 and older to be involved in fatal crashes when driving in the dark. Well, guess what? As the days get shorter and shorter heading into winter, the approximately 550 Park City High School students that drive to school in the morning just quadrupled their risk of being involved in a fatal accident.
Driving to school on October 12, my younger sister and I were about 6 inches from contributing to this statistic. We were on our way down the Mine Road, a small two-lane road coming down from the Deer Valley. We were traveling at about 50 mph, like any other morning on our way to school. About half way down, we spotted a bus creeping up the hill on the other side of the road with a line of headlights behind it. However, upon coming around a small curve, about 10 feet in front of the bus, I wasn’t to see not that those headlights were on my left. One impatient driver had opted not to wait for the passing lane that was only a quarter of a mile up the road. With no more than one second’s notice, a pair of headlights was coming directly for us on the wrong side of the road. We were traveling at about 50 mph he was probably going about 50 mph. That is a 100 mph head-on collision. With the bus coming up on my left, the car coming straight at us, and a ditch to my right, I’m not precisely sure how we skated out of this potentially fatal position. All within a matter of a second, I slammed on the brakes, swerved to the point where two of my wheels were off the road, let off the brake, and somehow scraped past. The car barely clipped in front of the bus with us giving him extra room. He was centimeters from taking off my driver side mirror.
My sister was in tears and shaking. I was furious that some careless driver nearly killed both of us to save 30 seconds. After we had both come to our senses a bit there was the realization that the entire front of our car was covered with Cheerios and milk. My sister was eating breakfast on the way to school. Furthermore, now, two weeks later, I’m still finding Cheerios as a reminder of what could have been.
Upon recounting the story to my parents, I realized how their advice over the past few years had helped. In a situation like that there is no time to think "now what did mom tell me to do if I was about to have a 100 mph head-on collision?" It has to be instinct. It needs to have been repeated over and over in order for it to be a one-second reaction. Had I overreacted and swerved too much, I would have rolled the SUV. Had I not let off the brakes when two of my wheels went off the road onto the gravel, we could have spun or rolled. Both tips my parents told me more times than I can count.
Talk to your kids about sticky driving situations. No matter how good a driver your son or daughter is, it doesn’t protect them from all the other bad drivers on the roads. Teens are less than seven percent of the drivers on the roads, yet they make about 25 percent of all car accidents. A few helpful tips in the car could save your kid’s life. I believe it saved mine.
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