The Keys to Freedom

Nicholas Kallipolites, Staff Writer

Once you pass your driver’s test you hold the keys of freedom in your hand. For the entirety of your life, you’ve had to ask your parents/guardians for a ride. If you needed to be somewhere on short notice, the responsibility fell onto your parents. As kids grew up it became more of a nuisance. But, how safe is it for you to be driving in the first place?
It’s no surprise teenagers are the most dangerous drivers on the road. They drink and drive, don’t wear seatbelts half the time, and struggle interpreting hazardous situations, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, they don’t have as much experience behind the wheel as adults simply because they’re younger people. Driving is such a delicate responsibility, and yet it seems teenagers are disregarding it for some cheap thrills.
“I think there can be more distractions for the driver, like the cell phones. They are much more connected and now waiting for contact from friends instead of a telephone,” said Susan West.
Use of cell phones alone while driving kill thousands every year. This has been echoed time and time again by many educators and instructors. However, many ignore the message. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one in three have texted while driving, putting them at 23 times more risk for an accident. Adding in passengers or perhaps another distraction essentially guarantees that teenagers will get into an accident.
“Developing good driving habits today will last a lifetime,” said driving instructor Mike
from Professional Driving School.
Those good habits save lives and reduce the shocking crash risk stated by the NHSTA and other agencies. A teenager driving by themselves compared to passengers reduces potentially risky behavior by over three times. Putting away or even turning off smartphones and electronics is a good start and will make teenagers and other adult drivers more alert on the road.
Sometimes the danger is not who or what is in the vehicle. Terrible road conditions, weather, other drivers doing questionable things, narrow sidewalks, and intersections to name a few can cause accidents no matter how much experience is behind the wheel.
At a standard 4-way intersection, such as at Bearses Way and Route 28 in Hyannis, there are 32 conflict points where a collision can occur. Half of them are when you cross over the intersection between the two roads on a green light. The other sixteen are on the four corners when you’re turning right. So what can we use to replace this common form of road design?
 “Roundabouts cut down on crashes,” said Mike.
Roundabouts. They’re a staple of visiting Massachusetts, and roads elsewhere could use more of them. They reduce the number of conflict points by 75%, down from 32 to eight. In addition, they slow all drivers down, lessening the severity of an accident if one happened.
Teenagers driving recklessly is one thing, but when they are inexperienced and don’t know the roads it creates an unsafe situation for everyone. Even though teachers and parents have openly campaigned and carefully taught teenagers driving techniques, not drinking and driving, turning off cell phones, and riding alone, we need to continue telling them. Knowing the risks and educating teenagers about the dangers and ultimate responsibility of driving a two-ton death machine will help reduce teenage driver accidents all over the world.