Driving: Decide, defend, do what’s safe!

JessicaBrusnahan

Teenagers often have a love/hate relationship with driving. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can calm them down when they’re stressed, but it can also be one of the most terrifying things they do. Regardless of how safe a person is, one always has to look out for how other drivers are acting. All it takes is one second for something seemingly innocent to turn into real danger. 

Over the years, many Marian students have been involved in car accidents. The October Network survey revealed that about 36 percent of the student body knew at least six people who were involved in car accidents. Moreover, 16 students knew 11 or more people who have been in car accidents, a fairly high number for such a young demographic. 

What can one do to prevent an accident? There really isn’t a clear answer. Sometimes a driver must make the best choice based on the current situation. Other times, it’s deciding to go the speed limit and marking out the roads you will take before you start driving. These actions and others taken to prevent accidents are known as defensive driving. 

As defined by safemotorist.com, defensive driving is a practice that “enables motorists to address identified hazards in a predictable manner” and “[reduces]…driving risks by anticipating situations and making safe, well-informed decisions.” Besides following the speed limit and reacting to your surroundings, the site mentions one other important thing to know: the 2-second rule, which uses a reference point between two cars to determine a safe following distance (your car should pass the point 2 seconds after the car ahead does). 

The notion of defensive driving is nothing new to the Marian student body. 96 girls said they had heard of defensive driving before. In response, the most popular answers to describe the practice included words such as “prepared,” “cautious,” and “vigilant.”

The widespread awareness of Marian students is most likely due to the classes and tests teenagers have to take in order to earn their licenses. While driving practice is key to gaining confidence in the car, it is also important to know how to work around reckless drivers. Your safety should always be your top priority, and no one agrees more than Mr. Pat Venditte, founder of Cornhusker Driving School in Omaha. 

“We try to get the kids as much hands-on and visual training as possible,” Venditte said. Cornhusker Driving School is at the forefront of modern vehicle technology, with patented safety lights to increase student and instructor attention when driving and a rollover crash demonstration to help persuade the use of a seatbelt. But no inventions are as important as the technique of defensive driving. “Defensive driving requires the driver to avoid the mistakes of other drivers [and give] 100 percent total concentration,” Venditte said. He hates to see the high injury statistics for teen driving, but hopes to prevent future accidents with enough training and practice. 

As reported by the Nebraska chapter of the National Safety Council, “more than 40,000 individuals were killed in motor vehicle crashes” in 2017, with the vast majority being “the results of human error.” With such scary statistics, it’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that driving is simply too dangerous. Driving safely and defensively can save people’s lives. 

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