Driving to School This Year?
No More Asking for Rides!
If you’ve recently completed Behind the Wheel and have earned your license, congrats! We know what you’re thinking, we’ve all been there before. No longer will you be stuck riding the bus or hitching rides with friends or family. Now you have a sense of freedom, more time (which, we can tell you, isn’t necessarily the case), and a social status that you haven’t had before since you’re now a driver.
But as school starts and the pressures of teenage years return to full swing, understanding the responsibilities you have when driving not only to yourself, your passengers and others is crucial.
One must always remember and keep top of mind the lessons learned during Driver’s Ed and Behind the Wheel, which can easily go by the wayside as you hit the road. When doing follow-ups with our past students, we always like to remind them not to fall into the peer pressure trap, to never take things for granted and that the statistics aren’t exactly in their favor.
There Will be Ups and Downs
Being a teenager today, as it has throughout previous generations, is full of ups and downs, struggles, excitement, good times and bad. Alcohol and driving was the scourge of new teen drivers in the past. These days, being distracted while in the driver’s seat is plaguing many motorists, not just those that are your peers. Social media and music apps, email and text messaging and built-in electronics in today’s cars pose a whole new set of challenges for teens.
It cannot be stressed enough that you, as a driver, have the tremendous responsibility of safety. You’re operating a several thousand pound object, traveling at speeds effected by the laws of physics, constantly making decisions. Being on the lookout and staying alert are amongst your top priorities, especially if you will be driving to school for the first time this year. As was taught in Driver’s Ed and Behind the Wheel, pay extra attention in parking lots as pedestrians can literally come out of nowhere, other vehicles are turning and reversing, and other drivers may be distracted. Remember, more than 20% of all crashes that occur in the U.S. happen in parking lots.
Stay in Control
Wanting to show off? It’s understandable, most new drivers do when pulling into school. But keep in mind while you’re whipping through the lot that you are in a school zone, where speed limits are generally reduced. Our law enforcement friends tell us constantly of teen drivers ticketed for speed-related offenses nearby or on actual school grounds. In Virginia and under 21, this is a quick way to end up in a Driver Improvement Class.
Controlling emotions (and your car for that matter) will no doubt be difficult for you. Being a safer, smarter driver starts with doing what is right, 100% of the time. Steering clear of the wrong decisions may not be the cool thing to do, but why risk it? Ultimately, you’re responsible for your actions whenever you’re driving, and others are counting on you.
So once again, congratulations on earning your Virginia driver’s license, and good luck with the new school year! Just please, please keep in mind the responsibilities you have as a driver and avoid the behaviors that could possibly put you and others at risk.