Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of teenage death in the US. The sad fact is that teenage motor vehicle accidents are preventable. There are various proven strategies that may help deal with this problem and reduce teenage fatalities on the road. Here is an argumentative essay on teenage driving that shows the extent of this problem.
Young and Reckless
Almost 2400 US teenagers aged 13-19 died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019 (CDC, 2021). More than a quarter million in this group received emergency treatment for motor vehicle accidents. This scary statistic means that about seven teenagers die while hundreds are injured in these crashes. The risk of these accidents is highest among teenagers aged 16-19 than in any other group. They are more than three times more likely to get into an accident than their older counterparts.
What makes this group more likely to get into accidents?
1. Weekend and Nighttime Driving
Nighttime driving is risky for anyone, more so for teenagers. They are three times more likely to get involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes than drivers aged 30-59. Weekend driving means teenagers are likely to have peer passengers. This is dangerous for teenagers and increases their chances of crashing.
The US proves the validity of this problem through its Graduated Licensing Program. For instance, Georgia only allows new teenage drivers (16-18) to drive with family members for the first six months after obtaining a driver’s license (NHTSA, 2022). They can carry one peer passenger for the next six months and a maximum of three others after one year.
2. Driver Inexperience
With age comes wisdom. Teenagers are less likely to recognize dangerous situations than their older counterparts. Underestimating a situation can lead to fatal road accidents. They are also more likely to make fatal decision errors than adults. As with all aspects of life, practice makes perfect.
Inexperience can cause a lapse in judgment. Teenagers have a small driving repository to draw from. Let’s face it; we’ve all made bad decisions while driving at one time. Nonetheless, we can use this experience to readjust our knowledge of the road. New drivers must rely on safe driving habits as they do not have experience. Driving with your teen is the safest method to pass on good driving knowledge.
3. FOMO and Texting
Everyone is aware of the dangers involved when one texts when they are driving. FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” Teenagers feel immense pressure to respond immediately to notifications and texts as they fear missing out. Despite the enormous help that increased connectivity has produced, this lifestyle has devastating consequences. Anything that distracts a driver may be potentially fatal.
Most teenagers, especially boys, tend to speed, a heavy foot if you will. It may look cool, but it is a bad decision. First of all, speeding is dangerous under any circumstance (NHTSA, 2022). Secondly, teenagers do not have the experience to deal with unforeseen events. New drivers mostly speed at night and with peer passengers. While seat belts may help, slowing down is better. You may be fast, but the slower driver will most likely outlive you on the road!
5. Stress and Fatigue
Teenagers face highly stressful situations in the contemporary world. When they are not studying for an important exam, they have to deal with growing mounds of homework. Many students participate in extracurricular activities to boost their resumes, participating in clubs or sports. Not to mention worrying they may be subject to school shootings, a common occurrence in the US in recent years. It is overwhelming to a teenager’s senses!
This means teens are getting busier and feeling fatigued. They do not get enough sleep to keep up with growing demands. When sleep deprived and inexperienced drivers decide to drive, they may forget good driving habits. Teenagers should have more rest before getting behind the wheel. It is better than the alternative, having an inexperienced zombie driving around!
6. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
Drinking and driving are two notions that do not belong in the same sentence. It is particularly devastating to teenagers since they have lower alcohol tolerance than their older counterparts. They are at a greater risk of getting in an accident than adults with similar blood alcohol concentration (Korioth, 2020). Drinking and driving is also more common among male drivers. Drunk drivers endanger everyone on the road.
Teenagers with peer passengers intoxicated with alcohol are at a high risk of getting in a road accident. The earlier mentioned FOMO lifestyle pressures teenagers to conduct themselves as their friends wish. They may speed up or make dangerous moves that endanger everyone in the car. An adult should determine whether a teenager and their peers are sober before allowing them to get behind the wheel.
7. Substance Use
Many substances can potentially impair a driver’s capacity to drive safely. Marijuana comes second to alcohol in terms of the most common drugs used when driving. It adversely affects a person’s motor coordination, judgment, reaction time, and decision-making (Korioth, 2020). These are crucial skills for a driver. Cannabis intoxication does not discriminate against drivers based on age and increases everyone’s risk of getting in a motor vehicle crash. The risk is higher when a person decides to use both alcohol and marijuana.
The best action to take when dealing with teenage driving is to enforce strict road safety rules. A parent or guardian cannot protect the teenager forever. Driving is an essential life skill that teenagers need to function optimally in the world. However, creating a reward-punishment scheme helps prevent fatal road accidents.
A parent or guardian can take the teenager’s phone for a while if they text while driving. This will teach them the gravity of their actions. They could also decide to ban the teenager from driving for a certain period as punishment for errors on the road, such as speeding.
It all comes down to how a teenager deals with road safety. Do they hold these rules in high esteem? Or do they consider rules as an impediment to driving? Teenage driving is dangerous. Those in authority should try to protect the teen as much as possible. Sadly, they are the only ones with the capacity to keep themselves out of harm’s way.
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CDC. (2021, October 12). Teen drivers: Get the facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html
Korioth, T. (2020, January 24). Steer teens away from using marijuana, driving under influence : Publications.aap.org. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/13611?autologincheck=redirected%3FnfToken
NHTSA. (2022). Teen driving. NHTSA. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving
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