Garner: Opinion

Editorial: Teen driving deaths are worrisome

Wake County recently celebrated with a fair amount of fanfare having reached the 1-million resident mark. It’s certainly a watershed moment for the county and it signifies the opportunities that abound in this region for living a good life with a good job and plenty of people to call your friends.

But it comes with a sinister side effect. It also means there are more cars on the road, more students in our schools and more opportunities to have awful wrecks that take the lives of young people long before they should leave us.

In the last three weeks or so, two students died when the car they were riding in crashed on the way to school. A third student died while waiting at a bus stop for his bus. And a fourth child was struck by a vehicle last week, walking toward his bus to go to school.

There simply has to be more attention paid to these kinds of situations. Drivers – teenaged and adult alike – need to take special care when they are driving during the morning rush hour or in the hour right after schools let out for the day. Go slower. Wait longer than you think you ought to just to be sure it’s safe to make your next move. Watch out for buses and the students getting on them. A little extra caution goes a long way. It should be no surprise for students what time school starts. There should never be a rush to get out the door quickly to avoid being late. The fact that buses are out on the road and that students are waiting for those buses should come as no surprise to adult drivers. There is no one – no one – who doesn’t know that schools are in session and that buses run routes to pick children up for school.

Three lives have now been lost. A fourth is recovering from injuries. How much more carnage has to take place before people get behind the wheel of a 4,000-lb. cage of metal stop taking off like there’s no one else on the road but themselves?

DOT has expressed its sorrow over the recent incidents and has promised to examine the interesections where two students died. But we wonder how many more intersections are out there that, just by the grace of God have not been the site of similar horrible wrecks? DOT is often reactive instead of proactive. In part, that’s a function of not having enough money to fix all the places they know are trouble spots. It’s a sad mark against our society that we allow people to die before we address problems like those.

In short, there’s plenty of blame to go around here. DOT can do more. Teenage drivers can build a stronger understanding of the risks involved when they get in a car with an inexperienced driver. And adults on the roads can assume the responsibilities all adults have to look out for others when they travel up and down the state’s roadways.

Every single one of those things must happen soon or we’ll soon be reading about the next teenage death.

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