A car represents countless things to a teen; it’s a coming of age totem, an ultimate symbol of freedom, a means for the best memories of our youth to be made. A car unleashes us into the world for the first time and opens up all sorts of adventures to be had. From spontaneous trips to Walmart at the odd hours of night to canoodling with our sweetheart, a car gives us so many opportunities to fully enjoy being young, but it also exposes us to the number one killer of teens in the United States.
Automobile accidents kill five to six thousand teens every year according to the Allstate Foundation. Fatal crashes among sixteen to nineteen year olds are four times that of adults with more years on the road. Texting, lack of experience, and many other factors play a part in why motor vehicle accidents are so deadly to teens, but a big factor that often goes overlooked and underestimated is speeding.
According to the NHTSA, exceeding the speed limit plays a major role in one out of every three fatal car crashes. Allstate estimates that 40% of those five to six thousand teens killed each year in motor vehicle accidents were involved in accidents caused by speeding.
Speeding, whether it’s driving above the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions, can put not only you, but others around you, in an extremely dangerous situation. The faster you go, the less time you have to react, the longer it takes to come to a stop, and the less your ability to navigate the road is.
With this generation’s affinity for risk taking and adoption of the motto “you only live once”, most teens have developed an “it won’t happen to me” attitude, especially when it comes to driving. In an Allstate Foundation survey, 55% of teens said that they speed by more than ten miles per hour above posted limits. When discussing the issue of speeding with students around campus, I found similar results. In fact, every person I interviewed admitted to speeding regularly. Wesley Spore, an 11th grader here at Viera High, confessed to frequently going five to ten miles over the speed limit. “Cops won’t pull you over going five miles over the speed limit,” Wesley stated.
Lax enforcement was a common justification for why fellow classmates speed, and several studies have shown that teens don’t drive safely for fear of crashing, but rather for fear of getting a ticket. If the fear of getting a ticket isn’t there, they see nothing holding them back from putting the pedal to the metal. The youth today has the mindset that if they can get away with it, why not do it?
“The speed limits are too low,” says VHS senior, Vinnie Finely, “I like to go fast.”
Along with thinking they can get away with it, I found the reasoning behind why my peers find speeding to be acceptable pretty uniform. “I speed when I’m in a hurry or to keep up with the other cars,” says Kylie Oliver, a Viera senior and self-proclaimed safe driver. This reasoning held true throughout the nation, with 69% of drivers in an Allstate Foundation survey admitting they speed to keep up with traffic.
No matter what your alibi is, speeding is against the law and not only could it result in a hefty fine, but also the loss of your life, your passengers’ lives, or any of the surrounding drivers and/or pedestrians’ lives. In the fast paced world we live in, it can be hard to hold back a lead foot, but speed limits are there for the safety of you and everyone else on the road. Injuries and fatalities due to other dangerous driving behaviors have been reduced over the years, but speeding is still a challenge in our society that needs to be addressed. Be aware of the consequences when you get behind the wheel and realize that you’re not immortal. Realize that when you drive recklessly you’re not the only one you’re putting in danger. With a car comes great freedom, but also great responsibility.