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Youth Forward Scholarship 2019 – Distracted and Unsafe: Driving in the 21st Century

Name: Gabriel Stark
From: Kenmore, Washington
Grade: rockingabe@comcast.net
School: rockingabe@comcast.net
Votes: 0

Distracted
and Unsafe: Driving in the 21st Century

By
Gabriel Stark

It is a strange
fact about American society that we accept the massive amount of
death on our highways as a necessary evil, a sacrifice so that we may
continue living in ease and access. If bears, for instance, were
killing 30,000 plus people per year Americans would start to
eradicate bears. “It’s for our own safety” they’d say. But
because auto transportation is perhaps the most critical part of our
infrastructure, we let these needless deaths fall by the wayside. The
total fatalities of the American Revolution, War of 1812,
Mexican-American War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t
even amount to half the number of driving-related deaths PER
YEAR
. But what can be done? Is it up to the government to make
stricter laws? To the citizenry to hold themselves to a higher
standard than that law? I believe the answer is in the middle.

The
first step in reducing the amount of driving related deaths is to
increase education. Extracurricular driving schools that not every
family can afford is a broken system. Not every school teaches the
same way either. If driving is such a central part of American life,
why is driving not taught in school? Why is it not a given that all
American high school graduates come out of high school knowing how to
drive? The first step is to equalize the accessibility of driver
education as well as standardize the courses themselves.

Most
people have been in one or two close calls on the road. I recall once
my friend who was driving cut a man off during the zipper merge on an
on ramp to the freeway. Basically my friend ruined the zipper by
forcing himself in behind a car that was merging as well. The man
followed us all the way to the shoe store we were going to. The store
was a 20 minute drive from where the incident happened. He then got
out of his Jeep and, before we could get out, started banging on the
driver’s window and screaming at my friend. Blood vessels
popping out of his forehead, the whole deal. This made me realize
that road rage is a real danger that most people don’t consider.

Here
are some steps the average driver can take that will make the road
safer. First, do not drive distracted. This obviously means don’t
use cell phones while behind the wheel, but also do not get into
arguments with your passengers. Second, always drive sober. Marijuana
is now legal in Washington and it is easier to get away with driving
high compared with driving drunk. However this does not make it any
less dangerous. Third, never drive sleepy. Sleepy driving can be more
dangerous than driving after a couple of drinks.

It
is an embarrassment that America has such a casual ideal of driving.
A driver’s license should be a big responsibility and easily lost
to infractions.


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