• Liam H.B.

Are we doing enough to prevent automative accidents?

When I scan the daily news, I routinely read similar headlines: “Teen driver struck and killed 10 year old”, “Teen driver killed”, and “Teen killed in a wreck”. While these articles showcase terrible events, I do not know the involved as they live in distant states. I live in a rather rural, yet beautiful town in Maine with a population of fewer than 8,000 people. Even in this idyllic place, the words “Teen driver killed” are commonly heard. To avert these headlines, my town, like many others, has driver’s education classes to prepare new drivers for the roads. These classes are strongly embedded in my town and almost hailed as a coming-of-age ceremony as they open a new world of travel and social lives. In regards to taking driver's education, I would be labeled a misfit in my town; I was a junior taking the classes, while most of my classmates were freshmen. This 2-year gap on the other hand also allowed me to better analyze these classes and the instructor teaching them. During the final exam that determined our preparedness for the roads, I watched the driver's ed instructor return a test to another student and help her correct more than 20%, boosting her to a passing grade. Not only did I find this insulting to those who put in the hard effort to learn what we were taught, but I also recognized that my community is not doing enough to promote safer driving. 

I realized that these accidents and deaths resulting in distraught families and lives can be lowered in big cities or even small towns like mine. Through better analysis of driver's education and stronger parental control, my school and community could be promoting safer driving. 

The most valuable lessons that a child can receive are those taught by our parents. It is therefore important for parents to become involved in the student’s driving journey and help their child become an advanced driver. Stronger parental control can be performed in a passive method that doesn’t infringe on the student’s privacy and promotes safer driving. Over 80% of high schoolers have mobile phones with GPS, accelerometers, and cellular built-in; with many applications already available, parents would be able to use the sensors to monitor if their child is speeding and analyze patterns of speeding. For example, a parent would be able to see if their child is repeatedly speeding on a certain route and then discuss whether or not the child is clear about the speed limit on said road. Furthermore, in 2019 an estimated 391,000 drivers were injured by distracted driving, the distraction was almost always a phone. To eliminate these distractions, programs could be installed on the driver’s phone to silence distractions such as app notifications or messages.

In addition, improvements in driver education could promote safer driving. According to the non-fatal collision reports from the last twenty years, there has been little progress in the preparation of student drivers. Improvements in driver education for safer driving are overlooked because of lacking analysis of students at both a local and state level. On a local level, a student’s achievements from class to class and from road lesson to lesson should be analyzed. This would allow adjustments to lesson plans that don’t educate and improve the material learned. On a state level, objective data needs to be collected to analyze if programs are educating and to promote safer driving. These evaluations would also allow for state offices to spot lacking programs in towns. Andrew.currin.ctr@dot.gov. “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” NHTSA, 6 Mar. 2020, www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving. O'Donnell, Jayne. “Finding Driver's Ed Programs That Really Work.” Edmunds, 5 May 2009, www.edmunds.com/car-safety/finding-drivers-ed-programs-that-really-work.html.