Young drivers


Emma Austin, Editor-in-Chief

For students who are studying the Washington State Drivers Guide issued by the Department of Licensing before taking their written driving exam, there is a sub-section in “BEFORE YOU DRIVE,” that goes over risks for young drivers, and it is certainly eye-opening.

Titled “Understand Risk,” it started by outlining the most common factors present in fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011 in WA.

 “Driver impairment: 50.1 %, Running off the roadway: 43.7%, Speeding: 39.5%, Young driver (16-25 years old): 36.6%, Driver distraction:30.3%…” as found in the first section of the manual.

If that wasn’t surprising enough, this data set on the increased risk of accidents and death with young drivers could really scare a student out of the driver’s seat.

“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people ages 16 to 25 in Washington. Drivers in this age group have the highest crash rate of speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving of any driver age group in the state,” stated the driver manual.

To help overturn these odds and alleviate the high rate of motor vehicle deaths in the past years, a safety plan was created in 2000, and current Governor Jay Inslee sent out a formal letter stating those terms.

It is “a highly collaborative plan created through the work of a number of talented people representing state agencies, city and county law enforcement, tribal transportation planners and law enforcement, and private organizations,” as described by Governor Inslee.

This plan, made for the state of Washington, is and still works as a “Strategic Highway Safety Plan,” called Target Zero. It was and is a call to action by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, to fashion a goal of zero car related fatalities by 2030.

A student marketing club at Renton High School is a part of a larger organization called DECA, that encourages Target Zero and even does campaigns to help spread the message.

Ready to learn more about Target Zero!? We can't wait to see you at the Target Zero Photo Booth at SCDC! …

Posted by Washington DECA on Tuesday, February 28, 2017

They seem to understand that getting students involved is one of the most vital steps in creating change.

To get some other feedback, we interviewed a few high school students, and simply asked them to describe their individual opinion on driving at a young age.

One student from Kennedy Catholic, Carver Ibañez, who recently turned eighteen and has been driving since he turned sixteen, responded to a few of our questions on his experience so far.

“Being able to drive is the best, it probably sounds cliché and what you want to hear, but when you go-in and out of driving you realize how much it sucks when you’re not able to,” described Ibañez.

“Driving is great, it gives you such much more to do and time to hang out with your friends, and if you drive you know that taking a late-night drive by yourself or with a few friends with your music up is always great,” noted Ibañez.

When asked about his fears regarding accidents and safety, he mentioned how it is more of an inconvenience, than anything else.

“Getting in an accident, it sucks, not just the fact that your car is messed up and that’s expensive to fix but your insurance rates go up a lot. When you’ve been driving for a while, and you lose your car, it gets real. You realize who your friends are and who just uses you for rides, Keep your circle small and your music loud.”                   

Another student named Mariam Johnson, that attends Gibson Ek, a school in the Issaquah District, gave us her thoughts.

“Student driving is really nerve racking, especially because you’re so new and not great at it, and unless you have a new student driver sticker on your car people get really mad at how bad you are,” shared Johnson.

In regard to her experience in the driver’s ed classroom, and her approach to learning, she opened up about her nerves relating to driving.

“The class was really informational and not too bad I wish it wasn’t so expensive though. I have really bad anxiety in general and sometimes when I’m driving to places I haven’t been before it heightens my anxiety and I get really scared of making a really awful mistake,” she described.

The last student we spoke with was Aadesh Dutt, a current Renton High School student, and former 911 Driving School attendee, who gave his take on teens driving.

“My perspective on the issue surrounding teen driving, would be that it tends to be a little uneasy when learning how to drive, but as you tend to learn and adapt and truly understand those fears and learn to overcome that uneasiness; then it is smooth riding from there. The fears are there to keep you from making bad choices,” shared Dutt.

Final Thoughts

If there is anything that young drivers can take away from the drivers manual, Target Zero’s message, or the student responses, it should be to remember to make oneself aware. So, whether or not you feel unstoppable like a A+ Driving Student, becoming aware of dangers going in will help alleviate problems that arise later, overall preventing the unthinkable from happening.



Target Zero



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