Driving is Dangerous, But It Doesn’t Have To Be

By Harper Johnson ‘19    

Not crashing a car is, it’s safe to say, one of the easiest parts of your day.  Yet somehow, 67 people between the ages of 15 and 20 died in 2017 in traffic incidents in Colorado. While many of these can be attributed to drunk driving, most can be attributed to distracted driving, which teenagers are, by far, the worst about.

The number of times I have had to honk at someone, especially a young someone, because they were sitting at a green light, or swerving into my lane because they chose to look at their phone instead of the one thing that they are supposed to do: drive.      

Not only is there a significant disregard for common sense while driving, there is also an astounding lack of knowledge of how to drive well in the first place.  It is a common complaint, of the majority of Coloradans who are proficient drivers, that the rest of the state has lost all ability to properly drive when there is the slightest bit of weather, no matter how insignificant.  

Unless you are driving a Formula 1 car, a light sprinkling of rain will not send you flying into a tree, if you know how to handle it.      

Lack of sufficient driving knowledge extends to more than just handling mildly adverse conditions. I recently witnessed something that was both perplexing and, at the time, kind of funny.

A couple of friends and I were driving into one of the parking lots at Regis Jesuit and near the entrance, facing the exit, was a parked SUV that was blocking traffic.  It was what was behind the SUV that really confused me, we saw a line of about twenty to twenty-five cars all stopped behind it. The young lady who was in the front-most of the occupied cars was just sitting there.  All signs should have told her that there was nobody in the vehicle in front of her.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that when a car is on, and not moving, its brake lights will be on, there will be exhaust pumping out of the tail pipe, there will be someone in it.  None of these rang a bell for the woman in the car behind it, she chose to simply pull up behind the unoccupied SUV too close to be able to go around, and then ignore us when we tried to tell her that there was nobody in the car in front of her.  The result was a pointless backup that slowed everyone down for a solid five or more minutes after I saw it.     

You may be thinking that this problem is most likely an isolated incident, but the data shows that this is a far more extensive issue. State, local, and federal governments; as well as agencies in charge of education, choose to emphasize exceeding the speed limit as the most dangerous threat to public safety, when in reality, speeding is only responsible for less than 20% of traffic incidents.

This highlights the real source of the epidemic of terrible automobile operating that continues to kill people at higher numbers than giant metal tubes that fly through the air at 500 miles per hour. The real reason why people are not better drivers is because they are not taught to be. I can personally attest to this, having gone through the whole Graduated Driving License Program in the last couple of years.  

The only real use that I found for the six hours that I had to spend behind the wheel with a driving instructor was to improve my parking (but only with compact cars) and knowing how to drive the way the state wants me to in order to pass the driving test.  I was encouraged to use a backup camera, instead of just looking over my shoulder like I would normally because, newsflash, not all cars have backup cameras, or blind spot detection, or a wired little speedometer that only has a digital number instead of letting you use the needle to tell how fast you are going.  

Not to mention the fact that the test itself is so easy that it takes legitimate effort to fail, and does not actually test for good driving.  The fact that you can fail it instantly by going just ten miles per hour over the speed limit, and get penalized for not turning your head at intersections, but you can get away with stopping short, failing to signal, and driving excessively slow with sluggish movements; all of which are just as likely to cause accidents.

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