Driving safely benefits everyone on, off the road

By ReaganRosenbaum

As soon as the clock strikes midnight on your sixteenth birthday, a new found freedom washes over you; you can now legally drive. With driving comes a lot of responsibilities that you might not become aware of until you are sitting behind the wheel, driving down Dodge Street during rush hour.

At that point, it is not just you and your parents inching your way down the empty neighborhood street. There are hundreds of other people surrounding you, and you can’t ask your dad what to do when a red Ford F150 won’t let you merge onto the interstate.

What so many people forget to recognize is that they are not the only car on the road. It might be fun to zip down an empty road at night, but that doesn’t mean that a deer won’t be emerging from the shadows right as your car hits 60 miles per hour.

One way to help new drivers understand the rules of the road is taking a driver’s ed class. “What helped me the most was looking at all the bad things that can happen,” said sophomore Grace Patterson, “I think it’s important to look at all the accidents to help you be a safe driver.”

Out of 140 students who filled out the September Network survey, only 65% knew what the term “defensive driving” means. “I think defensive driving is being aware of your surroundings to protect yourself and others,” sophomore Mary Kate Farnham said. “I always make sure I’m aware of other drivers, especially in intersections.”

Driving defensively is a great way to keep yourself and everyone else on the road safe. To do this, you should maintain the three-second rule, check your rearview and side mirrors periodically, monitor your blind spot by looking over the shoulder when you need to merge into another lane, and don’t be petty when someone cuts you off or you get stuck behind a slower moving vehicle. “I try to make sure the spacing between cars in front of me is good so cars don’t brake check me,” Farnham said.

Slow drivers have a tendency to evoke some frustration out of those behind them. Due to this, it can be very easy to develop road rage, but it is very important to remember to stay patient in these types of situations. Tailgating the car in front will not make them go any faster— all it does is put yourself at risk for rear ending the slow car.

“I always make sure to pay attention to the other cars around me,” Patterson said. Part of defensive driving is constantly observing the other cars around. In an instant, a tiny Toyota Corolla could come zooming from behind, zipping in and out of cars. It is so crucial to keep an eye on cars like this because if you try to switch lanes with out checking as the Toyota is barreling down the road behind you, you might have an accident on your hands.

“It is way more beneficial to drive safely,” Patterson said. “There is no point in risking you or someone else’s life.” There is so much freedom that accompanies driving, but there are also big risks to operating a 4,156 pound vehicle as a high school student. The only place that speeding can get someone any faster is an emergency room.

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