Youth Forward Scholarship 2019 – It All Starts in the Classroom

Name: Carissa Johnson
From: Oswego, Illinois
Grade: Junior
School: Oswego High School
Votes: 0

All Starts in the Classroom

Carissa Johnson

behind the wheel for the first time is an exhilarating experience.
This is a time in every teenagers life when they taste independence
and start taking advantage of gaining freedom. But, according to
Edgar Syder Associations, 32.8% of teens have texted while driving,
12% of distracted driving accidents have involved teens ages 15-18,
13.5% of 12th graders have reported driving after drinking, and 56%
of teens admit to talking on the phone while driving. There are a
plenty of statistics on teenagers and driving. So, we can ask the
question of why there is a stigma around teenagers and poor driving?
If a teen knows that 70% of teenagers who died in underage drinking
accidents did not have a seat belt on (Syder Assocoation), why are
they still driving without seat belts or stepping into a car
intoxicated? I believe it goes back to the teenagers education before
even getting behind the wheel. While experience is also crucial,
educating the youth on what to expect and what can happen is just as
important. This will ensure that teens are aware and driving safer,
in turn reducing risk. It should not take a loss of one’s friend or a
story on the news of underage drinking and driving to cause a reality
check. When a teen gets behind the wheel, they will all feel too
confident, like they have been driving for years, it’s exciting, they
will put too much faith in their little driving experience. This
needs to be counteracted with lessons on the dangers of the road, how
much power one car has, and guidance when trying to gain driving
experience. When I was in fourth grade my eyes were opened to the
ignorance some people have when driving, even into adulthood. Sitting
at a stop light, my mom’s minivan was hit by a car going 60 miles per
hour behind us. The driver was looking at his phone and did not have
time to stop. Years later I still feel the effects of injuries caused
by that reckless driver. The beginning years of driving are crucial.
These years ensure a new driver is prepared for other drives
shortcomings but also taught they are not invincible. As a driver
myself, I always have to remind myself that I can only control what I
do on the road. I have no control over others, as shown in my
accident. But, I can make sure when I am behind the wheel, I am
following the speed limit, riding my environment of distractions,
notify others of a dangerous driver, stopping in proper time, etc.
Then the safety of other drivers is out of my hands because I have
done my part. Imagine if we all thought this way how safe our roads
would be. But, it all starts in the classroom.

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