The best part about being a kid is being naïve. We play outside without fear, unaware that in the United States there are more than 260,000 kidnappings a year. We chat with our friends on Facebook, clueless that 82 percent of online sex crimes are against minors. We take a drag off our friend’s cigarette, uneducated of the fact that every day 3,900 minors try smoking for the first time, and 950 of them will make it a habit.
As we get older, all the things we were once naïve about, all the statistics that once held no meaning to us, they become relative. We tend not to grasp the ideas that we are a portion of these statistics and that we are not invincible. The Dalai Lama once said, “It is worth remembering that the time of greatest gain in terms of wisdom and inner strength is often that of greatest difficulty.”
As teens from local high schools mourn recent tragedies, I’d like to emphasize that every time we get behind the wheel, we are responsible for not only our own safety, but for other drivers’ safety as well. Your life – and theirs – is in your hands. That’s a pretty big responsibility.
I’m a sophomore in college now, and the thought of 16-year-old me operating 4,000 pounds of steel is pretty scary. We are eager for independence, and we do not fear driving enough.
As the community is faced with the tragic loss of teen lives, it is important to remember to take something from everything.
Make a change. You have the power to set an example for new drivers, to create a trend of choosing awareness over staying naïve. You matter, your life matters, your safety matters and you are here and capable of taking advantage of that. Dedicate yourself to making something positive come out of these tragedies.
In 2012, 876 people lost their lives in North Carolina due to simply not buckling up. Accidents clearly are all too common. The best thing to do to increase your chances of survival? Take the gimmies.
Does getting to a destination five minutes earlier matter? More than 68,000 people thought getting to their destinations earlier was worth speeding and caused a crash in North Carolina in 2012. The harsh truth is that 399 of those didn’t make it to their final destinations. In the same year, more than 49,000 accidents were caused by distracted driving, and 426 fatalities were due to drinking and driving.
Put your phone away. We all will understand. Do not put someone’s life in danger to tell Kelly that you will be late. Take advantage of our lovely friend Siri or wait. Kelly will survive – and coincidentally so will you.
Think you’re capable of drinking and driving? You are wrong. The problem is, a DUI is best-case scenario. Colleges do not care whether you had one beer at a party or 10 if you are an applicant with a DUI. Are you willing to give up a drunken night to guarantee you won’t put other lives in danger?
Oh, or for your parents’ sake? Do not raise the insurance bill to the literal roof. I mean roof. You have not experienced anger until your insurance has been raised to $600 a month. I know I did not enjoy getting into trouble for acting irresponsibly and having to ride the bus as a junior. Talk about freedom.
We are shaken up enough already. This movement will start with you. The day you choose to lose the naïve teenage attitude, you will be far more ready to operate those 4,000 pounds of steel. We are the teen driving statistics. Let’s make a difference. Do not underestimate the dangers of the road – and more importantly do not underestimate your power to save other lives.
Kayla Trudnak, 19, of Raleigh is a recent graduate of Apex High School and a student at Wake Tech.