Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Word of Caution

By: L.A. Kohl
January 28, 2005
(published in the Wed., Mar 16 2005 edition of the Bullseye, Vol. 1 No. 21)

I’m hesitant to write this article, because I am definitely no expert – least of all, on teenagers. But I feel like I would really like to say a little something to them and their parents, not as an expert, but just as a mom.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to start “preaching” about some moral topic, although I might like to. This is a topic that keeps re-surfacing, and I find it distressing – not so much for myself as yet, but for other parents. I’m talking about teenage drivers.

It all started almost two years ago, when our eldest became one of those teen drivers. She attended a small, private school in Columbia three days a week, and it amazed me how often she would come home from school and say, “Well, so-in-so wrecked their car yesterday.” She’s in public school this year, and the scenario is still the same, and all too frequent. (Unfortunately, she was one of the ones who had a wreck this year.)

As I thought about it, I couldn’t help wondering what changed over the years. When I was a teenager, I could have counted on one hand the number of my peers who had been in a wreck. (One of those was my best friend, who ran into a grocery store of all things – but that’s another story!) I know a big part of the difference is access to their own vehicle. I could also count on one hand the number of kids in my class who had their own automobile as a sixteen or seventeen-year-old. Nowadays, it’s rare to find a teenager who doesn’t have their own “set of wheels," or one of their parents extra ones.

I’m not against teenagers being able to drive. I just think we (I’m talking to myself as well) as parents, need to continually stress to them that it is a HUGE responsibility. A car can be a wonderful means of sure beats a bicycle when you want to get to Columbia. But, the flip side of it is that it can also be an instrument of death, if misused. When I was a pre-teen, a brother of a guy in our neighborhood thought he needed to speed around the car in front of him, even though it was on a curve in the road. No big deal, right? We’re all in a hurry sometimes, and do things a little recklessly, don’t we? Well, the next moment he ran head on, at high speed, into a semi that was coming around that curve. The rescue workers had to literally walk around picking up the body parts of the car and the two guys in it. Not a pretty picture, to put it mildly.

Teens - it might feel cool to drive a vehicle and be in control of where you’re going. Makes you feel all grown up, doesn’t it? It may be fun to drive fast and carefree...but something as insignificant as a loose patch of gravel can instantly change the fun into disaster. When it comes to driving – erring on the side of caution will almost always be in your best interest.

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