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Monday, August 08, 2005
Saturday night my brother's young girlfriend was in a car accident. Thankfully, she's okay - shaken up and bruised, but okay.
On her way home from work a young boy ran a red light causing her to hit him. He admitted to her that this was his second wreck this year.
I rant and rave a lot on here about the majority of our populations bad driving habits, but it is something I take very seriously. When I'm in my car, I am always conscious of the fact that I'm driving a potential deadly weapon - and that it only takes a fraction of a second for something to go wrong and someone (maybe even me) to end up dead.
Because we drive so much it becomes second nature. We don't think about it. People talk on the phone, eat lunch, apply their make-up while they're driving...some people even read. Often we're not paying full attention to the road even if we aren't doing some other activity; our mind is on work, family, what's on TV tonight.
Every year over 40,000 people die in fatal car accidents in the United States. Forty-thousand people. Young people make up a huge chunk of this death toll; motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people from 15-20 years old.
I think, perhaps, its time we changed the way we issue driver's licenses, and what you have to do to keep them. What about a point system? You get points on your license for every accident you cause...enough points and you lose the ability to drive - why not? Wouldn't something like that make people a little more aware on the road? Maybe for a while.
Let's tackle the problem even earlier. I think we need more aggressive training for potential drivers and harder tests to get a license. The training also needs to focus more on the dangers of driving and the terrible results of inattention.
Think about this: Police officers are given extensive driver training. Police officers spend most of their job on the road, involved in more dangerous situations more frequently than the rest of us - yet they have fewer accidents. Why? Because they are trained to drive safely, even in perilous situations. Why couldn't a similar driving trainer course be created for the general population? With the appallingly high death toll, one has to wonder, why hasn't it?
The young boy that ran the red light had already been in another accident that year. My sister was involved in a crash a few years ago; the teenage girl whom she was riding with had been in three previous crashes. Our youth need experience, true, but even before experience they need some good, hardcore training!
The responsibility of getting behind the wheel should never be taken lightly. 40,000 deaths says it all.
These statistics taken from Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Web-Based Encyclopedia. Visit for more information.