Bad Drivers: Teenager Edition

Emily Streeter, Contributor

Undoubtedly, teenagers are the worst  drivers according to the  majority of people in the United States. This is not exactly wrong, as teens with a driver’s license are more likely to die or get injured on the road than adults. This is possibly because these groups are more likely to be ignorant of any surroundings while on the road and only care about themselves…they do this instead of being defensive drivers, which can get them hurt or killed. This is stated by Michael Gongar on the Learning Network, “Among this age group, death in motor vehicle accidents outstrips suicide, cancer and other types of accidents.” In the same article, it also mentions a quote by Dr. Morris, principal researcher, “Cars have gotten safer, roads have gotten safer, but teen drivers have not.” In addition, teenagers are probably more likely to not watch for an unexpected sharp corner, which could cause an accident if you don’t spot them early on and slow down.

Teens are usually more dangerous drivers when with friends, I am positive everyone has seen at least one instance of bad driving where the passengers and driver are mostly teenagers. Additionally, there have also been reports by the National Safety Council, stating that “young drivers are more likely to engage in hazardous activities such as swerving, running red lights, or speeding, when their peers are in the car.” Some areas are taking action on this, even going as far as banning teen drivers from having passengers that are also teenagers. Reasoning is probably that they are more likely to be reckless and ignorant than an experienced adult driver, even more so when they have friends in the vehicle with them. The National Safety Council has also stated how having just one teen passenger raises the risk of an accident by 50 percent, so having your friends with you would only make it worse.

Another reason as to why teens could be the majority of accident victims is due to a prime distraction: cell phones. In September of 2007, California passed a law which “prohibited anyone under age 18 from using a cell phone while driving.” There were many mixed opinions on this law, one of them being the opinion of Kayla Hill, a CE student reporter that sided with the students. She did have some good reasoning, I personally would have sided with her if teens weren’t dying often because of accidents. She believes that the ban only stereotypes teens rather than keep them safe…that they should receive the same privileges, she believes, “Teens should not be singled out when it comes to unsafe driving with the use of cell phones because all drivers can be careless behind the wheel, no matter how old they are.” And she is right about that, as I have encountered reckless or even dangerous drivers that seem to be about in their twenties or thirties. 

Many states have developed strategies to prevent driving risks for teenagers. For example more states are adopting a better licensing program, commonly called the “Phased License-Acquisition” programs ( “Graduated Driver Licensing.” ) These programs target 16 year olds first, and have them go through additional procedures before they can officially get their license, an example being more tests to prove they are truly ready to drive. This can include teens having to gain experience in driving safely before being allowed the full privileges of driving. There are three stages to GDL: Learner’s Stage / Permit, Intermediate Stage / Provisional License and lastly a Full Privilege Stage / License. Personally, I see this as a great alternative to just flat-out preventing teens from getting a license in the first place.

Personal experience is a great way to explain why I feel the way I do about teenage drivers. Luckily, I have more than one of these that range from the Minnechaug parking lot to a girl recklessly pulling out of Gio’s parking lot. As to why this girl was considered a bad driver, it was the time of day where there was some traffic, and she thought she could just force her way onto the road. My mother had to slam on the brakes with me in the passenger seat since she was too far out to go around. I vividly remember how my mother blared her horn in response, but she still let the girl pass though despite how ticked off she had gotten. She always tells me “you have to drive defensively, there are a lot of people out there who only care about themselves.” With how often we barely avoid accidents due to selfish drivers, I’m not even sure if my anxiety and paranoia will let me get in the driver’s seat when the time comes.