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 Dangerous driving etiquette has got to stop

SAT.| 4-29-23 | OPINION

     Being new to driving, teenagers can experience a number of problems. Learning all of the new rules and common expectations that are associated with driving can be very overwhelming for inexperienced drivers.

     I frequently find myself tempted to get on my phone while driving, specifically at stop lights, stop signs or when I'm caught in slow traffic. Every notification makes me want to pick it up more and more, and I usually end up caving and clicking on it. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, 97 percent of adolescents admitted to using their phone while driving. This is very dangerous considering that the likelihood of getting into an accident increases by 300 percent when driving while on your phone. Last year, I turned off all of my Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok notifications in an attempt to reduce the amount of time that I spent on my phone while driving. I find myself going on these apps to respond if I am mid-conversation with


Graphic by Elliott Flinchbaugh

someone, but I think that turning off the notifications has made me much less likely to get on my phone when behind the wheel.

     Prior to receiving their license at 16, teenagers usually undergo a year of guided driving (with parents) but experience varies from family to family depending on the amount of time that they have chosen to devote to this driving. Some parents offer much more hands-on support, explaining the specific rules and common courtesies of driving. 

     I got my license at 16 after getting the minimum number of required hours. I think that I got a typical amount of instruction from my parents but after driving for a year alone, I have had to learn a lot by myself. 

     Drivers education was put in place to “prepare” drivers for the road. I assume that it would depend on the teacher but I did not learn anything by taking driver's education. Students need to be offered more in-depth instruction on how to drive by targeting common problems that new drivers frequently experience.

     Common problems that I hear teenagers discussing when driving are how to navigate four way stops, doing three point turns and paying close attention to the speed limit.

     Four way stops are not super hard to navigate. The first car that gets to the stop is supposed to go first and then the car to the right proceeds. If there are four cars at the stop, the cars to the left are expected to yield to the cars to the right until it is their turn.

     Three point turns are one of the things about driving that I have never found confusing. Practice and knowing when to do them are the most important and potentially difficult aspects of three point turns. Once drivers understand the correct times to use them, learning the steps are quite simple.

     Finally, another common issue that new drivers experience is following the speed limit. Driving is oftentimes overwhelming, especially if there is a lot of traffic or severe weather conditions. With all of the outside distractions, it is sometimes difficult to balance all of these while continuing to follow the speed limit. I think that this is an issue that could easily be changed if we prioritized following the speed limit and constantly paying attention to the change in speed limits between roads.

     All drivers experience their own problems, but prioritizing the common problems in drivers ed should lead to much less confusion when new drivers are welcomed to the road!

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