Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

As a teenager, life is hard enough as it is — balancing grades, relationships and free time takes a lot of extra effort. In managing these things, we forget about the importance of remaining safe, especially behind the wheel.

Carelessness is seen time and time again, especially at school. Eager teens fail to pay proper attention to their surroundings due to a whirlwind of distractions, whether they be physical ones or mental ones.

For example, take a look at Leesville’s student parking lot. There are three times throughout the day where the student parking lot is the most hectic: 10 to 15 minutes before school, during SMART Lunch and after the 2:18 bell. Students have one thing on their minds — getting in and out as quickly as possible.

In addition to having an eager mindset, teens are usually no strangers to texting and driving, driving without seatbelts or even driving while under the influence. Due to an underdeveloped sense of what is right and wrong, these dangerous factors come into play. Teens are then put at a higher risk for car accidents than older age groups.

According to research done by Centers for Disease Control in 2011, close to 300,000 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were either killed or severely injured in a car accident in the United States. Consequently, those between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for nearly 30% of the total cost of motor vehicle injuries. These statistics are shocking, considering that this specific age group only makes up 14% of the US population.

At the same time, these facts don’t come as a surprise. Although some have only been driving for a year or two, most Leesville teens have either been in an accident or have witnessed one firsthand. This was the case for Brooke Sturdivant, junior.

“My accident occurred when I was leaving for lunch,” said Sturdivant. “I was lined up behind the big trucks waiting to get out, and I remember thinking about a second before I felt the impact, ‘Is that guy backing out? Can he see me?’ Obviously, he was [backing out] and he couldn’t see me, so he left a huge dent on the back drivers side of my car. Luckily no one was sitting there and no one got hurt.”

Despite the damage to her car and the startling nature of the experience, Sturdivant took away a valuable lesson about safety on the road. “I learned that sometimes people make mistakes and that even though I absolutely love my car, I’m just happy it happened in a parking lot and that no one got hurt.”

In terms of the future, Sturdivant advises students to be more careful, especially in the parking lot. “My only advice for students would be to double check and really look at your surroundings before you go instead of just glancing. I think if we all slow down some and stop rushing, the parking lot could be a much safer place,” encouraged Sturdivant.

Accidents can be inevitable, but learning from them is an important part of growing as drivers. Nevertheless, we should always try and take steps to be safer behind the wheel to prevent worst case scenarios, whether we’re in the student parking lot or out on the highway.

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