By: Joyce S.

            Sixteen! What a glorious time to be alive! You feel your heartbeat race and your palms sweat as you step behind that steering wheel, able to drive on your own for the very first time in your life. Your chariot to freedom awaits and all you want to do is drive off into your next adventure. Soon after your first joy ride begins, you hear your phone chime in the passenger seat. You reach over, grab it, and check your notifications (hey, it was only for a second!) to find that your friend, and five others, are in need of a ride. Despite the fact that you haven’t exactly had your license long enough to drive anyone else, and that you don't really know who these five other people are, you can’t seem to suppress the urge to agree to their request…
            While distracted driving is a growing problem amongst all age groups, teens seem to be especially susceptible to this threat. For example, according to the DMV’s official website, “16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.” One of the reasons behind this is the growing issue of texting while driving. Sadly, this issue is only getting worse, and as reports, “Each day, 11 teens die as a result of texting and driving.” How many deaths could be prevented every single day if people stopped committing the crime that makes us twenty-three times more likely to crash? Yes, I said crime. In Georgia, as of July 1st, 2018 it is illegal to have a phone touching any part of your body while driving, save for emergency situations.
On the other hand the hands-free option on your device is still legal. Even though it is not outlawed, hands-free texting can still be detrimental to your driving ability due to the fact that it still splits your attention between the road and your phone. The hands-free option is significantly less dangerous than physically holding your phone, but it should still be exercised with caution.
            One of the other catalysts of distracted driving accidents is teens driving other teens - despite the fact that a minor is prohibited from driving anyone other than family for the first six months they have their license they (Joshua’s Law). Most teenagers don’t abide by this law even though it can have seriously negative effects. It has been scientifically proven that a teen’s likelihood of crashing increases with every extra passenger in the car. This, combined with the fact the teens are more prone to speeding, more susceptible to peer pressure, and less likely to wear a seatbelt than other age group, makes breaking Joshua’s Law more dangerous than most teens realize. There’s a reason why it was passed in the first place, and if young drivers choose to ignore it, there could be grave consequences for everyone involved.
            As previously stated, teens die every single day as a result of distracted driving, and the most crushing reality of this is that distracted driving is completely preventable. When on the road, make sure to pay attention for your safety and the safety of others, especially if you have passengers in the car. Think twice before you break Joshua’s Law, even if it’s you in the passenger seat, and make sure to only ride with friends that know that they have your life in their hands. Teen driving campaigns have done all that they can with in-school promotions and ads on TV. Now, it’s up to us to save ourselves.

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