Driver Education Initiative – Risking Everything

Name: Jordan Dahiya
From: Glenview, IL
Votes: 0

I was 15 at the
time; Jared was 19.

Jared was my
step-cousin, but more than that he was my best friend; living in
Colorado, we frequently visited his family and spent time hiking,
skiing, you name it. It was October, and we’d just gotten home from
one of these trips. Jared had dug into his savings and bought a new
motorcycle, and had taken both my brother and I on crazy rides,
flying up and down the rolling hills that preceded looming mountains.

October. It was
October when we got the call. Jared had been hit by a drunk driver
while riding his motorcycle, and wouldn’t make it through the
night.

How do you tell your
15 year old daughter that her best friend is gone?

It scarred me, it
really did- unlike most 16 year olds, I didn’t beg to be taken to
the DMV on my 16th birthday. It was like pulling teeth for my
parents, who just wanted me to take Driver’s Education. I couldn’t
imagine driving in the same world I’d lost Jared to.

So, what can we do?
We owe it to the fatalities – thousands upon thousands of innocent
individuals who never made it back to their families – to do better.
We owe it to ourselves to reform outdated curriculum, and prepare our
new drivers for real life situations.

On an individual
level, students must be open with their peers about the consequences
of “DUI’ing” (driving under the influence), or even just
driving distractedly. Believing we can solve such a daunting issue
with road signs – “don’t drink and drive!” or “put the phone
down!” – is completely and utterly unrealistic. Distracted drivers
don’t see the signs, and drivers under the influence have already
made their decision. To say I’m not guilty of checking my phone
every once in a while would be a lie, though I try to use my own
experience as a daily reminder to just drive.

Parents must
maintain open dialogue with their teenagers, not advocating for
underage drinking but instead understanding the nature of high school
and nurturing the idea that just asking for a ride is always the
better option.

Driver education is
essential in decreasing fatalities on the road. We must make
curriculum realistic; speaking to the everyday experiences of our
students. When I finally did agree to take Driver Education, I was
subjected to 2 hours a day of outdated VHS tape footage that went
through “scenarios” and solutions. Really? If we’re serious
about increasing the safety of our roads – and we should be – why are
we using the same curriculum? A simple change, such as a student
focus group with Driver Education providers could provide a world of
change.

Jared never made it
home that night, and I hope for the sake of families nationwide and
globally that they never experience the loss of their children this
way. Better driver safety starts locally, it starts individually, and
it starts today.